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Cumberland County to consider strategies for fighting opioid epidemic

State to provide $16.9 million from settlement with drug companies

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The Cumberland County commissioners will consider input from nonprofit agencies and the public on strategies to spend $16.9 million from the state to combat the opioid epidemic.

The money is the county’s share of a $26 billion settlement with drugmakers announced in July by state Attorney General Josh Stein.

The settlement, according to a news release from Stein’s office, resolved a lawsuit brought against pharmaceutical companies by Stein and attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The states said that the companies that make opioids helped fueled the epidemic.
The money will be distributed over 18 years, county Health Director Jennifer Green told the commissioners at a meeting Monday at the county courthouse.
The county will receive part of the funding this spring and another portion this summer, Green said. Additional payments will come annually until the $16.9 million total is met.
The Board of Commissioners will discuss options for spending initial funds at a May 12 meeting. The county also will seek input from local agencies and the public at large.
Green told the commissioners they have two strategies to consider: a high-impact strategy, or “things we know that work,” or a high-impact plan with a larger list of strategies.
“You can start with Option A, and you can spend the money immediately,” Green said. But she said Option B is “a more in-depth process that could take several months.”
Both strategies are focused on helping opioid addicts with recovery through various agencies that assist with housing, food, employment, and overall health care and wellness.
Money will be earmarked for Fayetteville, Spring Lake, Hope Mills and other communities in the county, Green said. Those would include Eastover, which Green said has seen an increase in opioid use.
“We know we have an opioid problem,” Commissioner Charles Evans told Green. “We know we have a substance abuse problem, too. We have others who can’t afford (opioids), so they rely on crack cocaine. We’ve got to do a better job and let people know where to go. We have people in need of a lot of attention.”
Green agreed.
“Yes,” she told Evans, “they are cominglers.”
In other business Monday, the commissioners:

  • Approved without discussion a Crown Event Center Committee recommendation for planning and development of a proposed $84.2 million events center.
    • Heard about a plan to lease real property to Coastal Horizons Center, a nonprofit agency based in Wilmington.
    • Took unanimous action to approve consideration of the 2022 Community Development Annual Action Plan.
    • Approved without discussion a proclamation recognizing George W. Breece, a Fayetteville resident.
    • Approved without discussion a proclamation recognizing May 1-7 as Hurricane Preparedness Week.
    • Approved without discussion turning over Health Department delinquent accounts to a state debt settlement program.
    • Approved the sale of surplus property at 213 Hawthorne Road; 6103, 6347 and 6229 Canadian Ave.; off A.B. Carter Road; and off Ingram Street.
    • Appointed Vicki Evans to the Alliance Health board of directors; Abrahm Flores to the Human Relations Commission; and Devin Trego to the Home and Community Care Black Grant Committee.
  • Heard an update from Sharon Moyer on the Family Connects program. Moyer is community engagement administrator for the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County.

 Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Fayetteville, Cumberland County, opioids, Josh Stein, Crown Center, events center,