County to roll out opioid fund applications

Panel wants to find best place to use settlement funds


LEE COUNTY – The movement to start combatting opioid disorders in Lee County took another step forward Thursday night.
A committee formed by the Lee County Board of Supervisors to delve into how best to address opioid misuse in the county finished up creating an application for grant funding from the county.
The funds come from settlements that have been negotiated on the county’s behalf as part of nationwide class action suits against opioid distributors and manufacturers who profited off prescribing the painkillers knowing the addictive properties.
The county currently has about $300,000 in a dedicated, interest-bearing account and will be receiving close to $100,000 per year over the next 15 years per agreements already signed with groups such as Johnson & Johnson, Janssen, Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, and others retailers and manufacturers. Another $51,000 payment is expected in July.
Attorneys working the case nationally are pursuing other manufacturers as well and additional future payments could be received.
At least 75% of the funds have to be used for opioid abatement strategies in the county including medication-assisted treatment, treatment for pregnant and postpartum women suffering from opioid use disorders, neonatal assistance, transition services, treatment for incarcerated populations, prevention campaigns, and drug disposal programs, syringe service programs, and data collection and research.
Up to 25% of the funding can be used for other treatment and prevention outside of the core strategies.
The panel created by the county board includes supervisors Tom Schulz and Matt Pflug, Sheriff Stacy Weber, Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross, District 8B Judge John Wright, Lee County Grant Writer Chuck Vandenberg, and multiple representatives from rural communities.
Ross worked with Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services to create a community survey looking at where opioid funds could do the most good including talking with people suffering from opioid and substance abuse disorders.
Ross then created an application for the panel that allows groups to possibly tap into the funding. The application would require groups to identify which part of the core strategies they are looking to expand upon and describe their project or program in detail.
The 3-page application will be available on county’s website and can be filled out and emailed to the county at opioidfund@leecounty.org.
The application is being finalized and will be voted on by the committee before the end of the month and then will be available for groups to complete and submit.
Schulz, the chairman of the committee, said the county will have money to do some good, but the application will be critical in finding the best places for it.
“This allows groups to really put some thought into what they want to do and how they can expand on services in the county to the people here that need it the most,” he said.
Weber said this is a chance for the county to ramp up services to those who need it most.
“This is a lot of money and this will give the county a chance to maybe start something new, and certainly expand on what groups like ADDS are already doing,” he said.
The panel will screen the applications and then make recommendations to the board of supervisors based on a score of the applications. The board will then approve spending out of the opioid funds.
Each year the county will be required to report to the National Opioid Trust what activity has been done within the strategies and what expenditures have been allowed.
There are no deadlines on the applications and they will be accepted as received.

Lee County, opioid, National Opioid Settlement Trust, funds, grants, local, applications, Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Stacy Weber, Tom Schulz, news, Fort Madison, Pen City Current,


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