County signs resolution to fight opioid crisis, puts lawsuit contract on hold


W. Curt Vincent - Bladen Journal



ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County commissioners agreed that it makes sense to join with other counties in the state in a resolution declaring the opioid crisis as a public nuisance, but were forced to hold off on voting to join with 46 other counties in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies.

During its regular meeting Monday, the board discussed the issue of signing a resolution that essentially declares war against opioid abuse.

But commissioners also said the resolution — and the lawsuit — need to go further.

“I’m not against the county joining (the lawsuit), but there are other areas to focus on, too,” said Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson. “Pharmaceutical companies have deep pockets and can get past this with settlements — we need to also look hard at doctors and pharmacies.”

Other commissioners agreed.

“Doctors are writing these prescriptions and are a big part (of the problem),” said Commissioner Ashley Trivette. “We should expand (the lawsuit) further out.”

“We need to even look at at the federal government,” Commissioner Michael Cogdell said. “It’s the FDA that approved these drugs and we need to cut it off at the source.”

Although the board unanimously approved signing the resolution, when the issue of joining 46 other counties in the lawsuit, things came to a halt.

“That wasn’t part of the agenda, so I think it will have to wait until the next meeting (on Jan. 2),” Peterson said. “We haven’t even seen the contract.”

The board agreed, promising to put the issue on the agenda for next month.

In other business Monday, the board:

— Approved the purchase of 53 Ballistic Helmets from the Bob Barker Company for the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office at a cost of $14,147.

— Approved a fence project at the Bladen County Courthouse and an agreement with the town of Elizabethtown for the project.

— Accepted a $200,000 appropriation from the General Assembly to be used at the Sheriff’s Office Training Center.

— Approved renewing agreements between the Bladen County Health Department and East Carolina for clinical rotations; Bladen Medical Associates for complex issues referrals; Bladen County DSS for child abuse/neglect reporting; Eastpointe for referrals; and the Office of Rural Health for medical access plan at a cost of $16,700.

— Approved a $128,600 contract with Dewey Shaw of Elizabethtown for the Administration Building (former Sheriff’s Office) renovation project.

— Voted 5-3 against video-taping county commissioner meetings.

— Tabled a policy for monetary support of sports teams through the County Parks & Rec Department that advance to regional, state and World Series levels. The policy would give $15 per player for teams going to a regional and state competitions less than 60 miles away, $30 per player for those more than 60 miles away; and a flat donation of $500 to those teams traveling to World Series competitions.

— Recognized Commissioner Peterson for his service as board chairman in 2017.

The next meeting of the county commissioners will be Tuesday, Jan. 2, at 6:30 p.m.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or cvincent@bladenjournal.com.

W. Curt Vincent

Bladen Journal

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