Whitley County allotted $700K in opioid settlement funds | News
WILLIAMSBURG — Whitley County Fiscal Court was called to a special meeting Tuesday — establishing an account for the county’s first installment of opioid settlement funds and approving measures to assist operations at the sheriff’s office.
The court authorized Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. and County Treasurer Nick Simpson to open a bank account for the money awarded to the local government to fund drug treatment and education programs to help fight the opioid crisis.
“I would venture to say that every family in this community has been affected in some way by drug addiction,” White told the Times-Tribune. “Our county was one of the top ten in the United States as far as pills prescribed per capita. It’s been a real plague to our community.”
Per the national settlement reached last February, funds will be disbursed over the span of 18 years.
“We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish,” said White. “We are a part of the first 10 or 12 counties in Kentucky to be part of that litigation. We are getting a little extra share from that. It’s gonna be a substantial amount of money over the 18-year period of payout.”
County officials hope to use this money to increase enforcement to try and stop those who are participating in the use and selling of drugs, in addition to education programs in schools to help children onto a better path and programs at the jail.
New Sheriff Bill Elliotte said just over the past year, they have responded to many overdoses and drug use situations in Whitley County.
“We hope to make a dent in the drug problem here in Whitley County,” Sheriff Elliotte said. “However we can’t arrest out the drug problem. It’s going to take combined efforts of rehabs, court systems and parole. We are all going to have to work together to make a difference. We can arrest all day long but that is not the solution. It helps but until we all work together, we won’t see the impact we need to see on this epidemic.”
Judge White is working with multiple organizations to see this happens.
“Next week we are looking into meeting with one of the biggest rehabilitation treatment centers in the region,” he said. “They have about 30 locations with the potential of having one of those centers in our county.”
Addiction Recovery Care will be the organization that the county will be meeting with next week and they have already met with Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., Cumberland River Comprehensive Care and Fletcher Group.
“We are hoping between all of us we are able to use some of these funds to help make this project a reality,” White said.
In addition to approving deposit of the opioid funds into a new account, the court approved several measures to assist operations at the sheriff’s office — including an advancement application and bond for the advancement.
Additionally, the court accepted $70,000 in excess fees from former Sheriff Danny Moses to close out 2022. However, that funding was returned to Sheriff Elliotte and the department at his request.
“The main purpose of this meeting was to assist the Sheriff’s office in starting with a new administration,” White said. “They have to start with a zero balance at the new year so the excess fees money were given to them to help them make payroll this week and help them with the money they need to run off for the first few months from the state advancement program which is annually done.”