By Corinne Saunders | Outer Banks Voice on October 23, 2022
AG Stein praises county’s use of settlement funds
Dare County is “far ahead” of most counties in its plan to use its portion of the national opioid settlement funding, according to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
“A lot of the counties are in sort of the early stages of strategic planning, but I think because Dare County has been doing this work for a number of years, they knew what they wanted to fund — and they were able to deploy the funds to a number of very worthy initiatives,” Stein told the Voice.
Dare County is receiving a total of $3.4 million over the next 18 years, with about $420,000 designated for this fiscal year from the opioid settlement. Two-thirds of this year’s money has already been received and “the next third is coming very shortly,” Stein told about three dozen Dare County leaders and citizens in an Oct. 20 meeting at the Dare County Administration Building in Manteo.
Stein has been traversing the state and hearing from local leaders about their efforts to combat the problem of opioid addiction using funding he helped secure through last July’s $26 billion legal agreement with four pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.
North Carolina’s portion of that funding was $750 million, of which, 15% went to the state and 85% went to local governments.
Other states allocated “much heavier percentages” to the state government, “but we recognize that this is a crisis that’s born at the local level, felt at the local level and addressed at the local level,” Stein noted. “Each county’s response can now be localized because the money is coming to you all.”
“Tragically, we are in the deadliest moment in the deadliest drug epidemic in American history,” Stein added, noting the over 108,000 people who died in the country of drug overdoses last year.
Dare County saw 15 overdose deaths and 16 emergency department visits related to overdoses in 2020, “and I know that 2021 was a harder year than 2020,” he said.
Local community leaders speaking at the meeting discussed how the funding will expand on their ongoing efforts in the categories stipulated by the funding: prevention, treatment, recovery or harm reduction strategies.
After seeking public input, Dare’s funding this year was designated for an overdose response coordinator; a probation officer for recovery court; expanding naloxone community distribution; fentanyl testing strips for community distribution; a “fentanyl kills” mass public awareness campaign; community initiatives; and “a linkage to care/social determinants of health,” said Sheila Davies, Director of Dare County’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Community input will be sought annually to reassess the funding allocation, so if one initiative isn’t working, that money can be reallocated to another initiative, Davies explained.
Linkage to care/social determinants of health provides support to someone in recovery by funding their admission into a treatment facility, providing transportation or helping with housing, she said.
Hiring another probation officer for Dare County Recovery Court “can double our caseload,” said Recovery Court Director Emily Urch. There are currently 40 participants in the program, plus six “in their step-down active monitoring stage.”
Recovery Court has operated since March 2019, with all clients being felons “with serious drug problems” coming from Superior Court. There are 27 successful program graduates to date, which “may not sound like a lot, but it takes most people at least two years to get entirely through the program,” Urch said.
The overdose response coordinator will assist the program the Saving Lives Task Force began in 2018 that swiftly grew into the countywide Recovery and Overdose Response Services. In that effort, two peer support specialists work closely with EMS, law enforcement and other partners to be supportive contacts after an overdose situation that help facilitate a person’s entry into treatment, recovery groups or harm reduction services.
The Saving Lives Task Force started in 2014 and has since held 21 informational town halls, said co-chair Roxana Ballinger. “We collaborated with Source Church in 2016 to start North Carolina’s second syringe exchange program,” she added.
So far this year, the task force has distributed 776 naloxone kits and 566 fentanyl test kits to the community, law enforcement, professionals and other partner organizations, Ballinger said.
The Dare County Manager and Board of Commissioners directed the Saving Lives Task Force to implement a process to distribute the $125,000 earmarked for community initiatives, she said. The task force opened grant applications to all local entities involved in opioid crisis-related work and awarded 10 grants of varying amounts.
As previously reported, those receiving funding are Interfaith Community Outreach; the Community Care Clinic of Dare; Just in Case; OBX Room in the Inn; Cross Roads OBX; Dare County Recovery Court; Changing Tides; Outer Banks Yoga; Outer Banks Dare Challenge; and a contracted peer support specialist with Recovery Court.
“When we look back and see where the greatest bang for our buck was, I do believe this is going to be one of the initiatives where we see that,” Davies said of the community grants.
In response to a question about other opioid litigation currently underway, Stein said he hopes to “finalize a number of these deals before the end of this calendar year, which would mean payouts would begin in 2023.”
While not as large as the initial settlement, Stein said he expects to soon see “meaningful additions” to the current opioid settlement funding.
For more information about each county’s funding, initiatives and overdose data, visit ncopioidsettlement.org. For more information about the Saving Lives Task Force, visit www.savinglivesobx.com.
NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS: BIDDER PRE-QUALIFICATION REQUEST: Barnhill Contracting has been selected as the Construction Manager at Risk by Dare County and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade and specialty contractors to submit bids for furnishing Labor, Material, Equipment, and Other for the new “Dare County – EMS 1 / Fire Station 14” (KDH) located in Kill Devil Hills, NC. PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The scope of the project encompasses approximately 36,000 sqft of new construction and 18,000 sqft of demolition on a 3.5-acre site located at the 1630 N Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, NC. The project includes masonry bearing walls supporting a Standing Seam Metal Roof over Light Gauge Trusses housing administrative, living and support spaces along with 6 apparatus bays. Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages: BP750 – Turnkey Siding. Additional Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business participation is encouraged. Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals to Meredith Terrell by December 2, 2022, via email at email@example.com or mail to PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (Office Location – 4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612). PREQUALIFICATION FORMS CAN BE OBTAINED from BuildingConnected through this Invite under the “File” tab or from BuildingConnected link on the Barnhill, Bidding Opportunities website at app.buildingconnected.com/ by selecting “Dare County – EMS 1 / Fire Station 14 – Prequalification”, or by contacting Meredith Terrell firstname.lastname@example.org (919-604-2367). Please submit completed prequalification forms A and B along with all required supporting documentation and with All Bid Packages you are Prequalified for Checked. Form B must be submitted for this project. Form A is good for 1-Year and if you have submitted one to Barnhill within the last year, it should still be valid. If you are unsure, please verify this with Meredith. Target Bid Date: January 2023