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County commissioners allocate nearly $1 million in opioid settlement funds

This photo shows an arrangement of prescription Oxycodone pills. Associated Press File Photo

The county commissioners on Wednesday allocated a nearly $1 million payment from the state opioid settlement to substance abuse recovery programs, including the medication assisted treatment program at the prison.

The county’s initial payment of $977,379 received last year from the Pennsylvania Opioid Issues and Addiction Abatement Trust was allocated to three recovery categories, giving county leaders flexibility in how to use the money, said Leslie Osche, commissioners chairwoman.

Commissioners approved allocating $350,000 to address the recovery needs of people in the criminal justice system, including people in the county prison. The money will go to the medication assisted treatment program at the prison and other people in the justice system with substance abuse disorder.

The MAT program, which is mandated by the state, recently transitioned to the use of monthly Sublocade injections for inmates with substance abuse issues.

The injections cost $1,600 each, but are considered safer and less expensive to administer than the Subutex pills and Suboxone strips, which were given daily.

At the Jan. 17 prison board meeting, officials said corrections officers had to be on hand when inmates were given Subutex because they would try to not ingest them so they could sell them to other inmates. A month’s supply of Subutex cost $100 per inmate, but administering them was labor intensive, officials said.

An allocation of $100,000 from the settlement was directed to housing programs that address safety, recovery and related mental health issues.

A second $100,000 was allocated to newly proposed collaborative community prevention and recovery programs driven by the recovery community and focus on individual and community integration and workforce engagement, and toward the planning of a community-based recovery center.

The final allocation of $427,379 is for the startup costs of the three recovery categories.

The money must be spent or disbursed within 18 months, and the county will receive more settlement money this year, county solicitor Wil White said.

Osche said the categories came from meetings the commissioners had with recovery groups.

The county is expected to receive an average of $500,000 a year for the next 17 years from $1.07 billion Pennsylvania will receive from the $26 billion settlement with pharmaceutical distributors.

In other business, the commissioners approved contracts with Jefferson Township and Marion Township to administer grants for recreation projects from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Jefferson Township is matching a $555,000 DCNR grant to upgrade the swimming pool at Laura Doerr Park by replacing the mechanical system, water heater, pool liner, replacement of the pool deck and waterslide.

Marion Township is providing a $20,000 match to a $50,000 DCNR grant to replace and redevelop the township park playground area.

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