As darkness falls tonight, more than 300 people are expected to gather at the Carroll Community College amphitheater to light candles in memory of three local youths whose lives were cut short by drugs.
The candlelight vigil, which will begin about 9 p.m., is a precursor to tomorrow's ALPHA concert -- a daylong event to warn youths about drugs. More than 3,000 youths are expected to attend the concert, which will also be held at the amphitheater, organizers said yesterday.
The brainchild of Westminster-area residents Matt Crum, 20, John Purvis, 23, and Steve Bohli, 19, who formed the band Steel Factor about four months ago, ALPHA stands for Active Locals Preventing Heroin Addiction.
Profits will go to organizations such as Junction Inc., Residents Attacking Drugs, the Carroll County State's Attorney's Heroin Kills campaign and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. All promote awareness, prevention or treatment of drug and alcohol abuse.
Crum and Bohli were friends of Liam O'Hara, a 15-year-old Westminster High School student who died in January of a heroin overdose.
"The guys were shook up because it wasn't just Liam, they also knew the others who had died. It was getting too close to home," said Steve Crum, Matt's father.
In June 1996, two weeks before his 17th birthday and a day after talking to his mother about his plans for senior year at Westminster High, Michael "Scott" Payne was found dead in his room. An autopsy attributed the death to a drug overdose.
Darrell Burnette, 21, another Carroll County resident, also died recently. Law enforcement officials said yesterday that he died of a heroin overdose. They were unable to provide details.
Although Payne's death was publicized in the local media, it did not cause the furor that was sparked by O'Hara's overdose Jan. 9. Concerned parents and students have rallied around the O'Hara family. Town meetings, anti-drug seminars and a crackdown by state and local police followed in an effort to stem the use of heroin in Carroll County.
In March, legislators in Annapolis sponsored two bills designed to deter drug dealing in schools. Neither bill made it out of committee, but Carroll County residents continued their anti-drug campaign. In June, Steel Factor began planning the ALPHA concert.
"This will reach more kids than a straight lecture would. It takes a soft-sell approach," said Purvis, who plays keyboard. "It shows them an alternative to the drug culture. Getting addicted to music is much healthier than getting addicted to drugs."
Eighteen rock bands are scheduled to perform from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Crack the Sky and the Patty Reese Band, both popular Baltimore bands, will be featured, with the Alley Katz, a rap group from Baltimore.
Bobby Hird and John Tracey of Crack the Sky arranged for Gordon Miller Music of Baltimore to donate a Fender electric guitar, which will be autographed by the bands and raffled during the concert. Food and drinks will be sold.
The event has won the support of politicians, law enforcement officials, and civic and community association leaders.
"There's about 130 volunteers signed up to work the event," said Brian DeLeonardo, an assistant state's attorney who has been helping promote the concert.
Tickets -- $4 in advance and $5 at the gate -- are being sold at Westminster outlets: Coffey Music, 31 E. Main St.; New Song Guitar Center, 140 Village Shopping Center; and the office of the state's attorney, 125 N. Court St. The concert rain date is Aug. 22.
Pub Date: 8/14/98