DOBSON — Surry County commissioners might hold a leadership summit regarding the prescription drug epidemic.
At its meeting on Monday evening, the Surry County Board of Commissioners will consider convening a leadership forum aimed at ending the opioid problem in Surry County.
A letter from Davidson County Commissioner Fred McClure, who serves as president of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, which urges county boards to hold such a forum is included in the agenda packets of commissioners.
McClure’s letter also includes a packet of information regarding opioid abuse and how to hold an effective forum, and he is asking all counties in the state to collaborate among their elected officials in hopes of solving the problem.
As of Tuesday, Surry County EMS Director John Shelton noted there had been 40 fatal overdoses in Surry County in 2017.
Not only are these deaths tragic, but there are associated costs that are shared by all county resident.
For example, when wrapping up department expenses for the fiscal year in June, Finance Officer Sarah Bowen presented the board with a report on increased medical costs. The county had allocated $40,000 for medical examiner costs and services. However, the actual expenses came to $82,350, more than 200 percent of the expected expenses (with another $1,142 billed to Medicare and Social Security).
Commissioner Larry Johnson pointed out that this is a direct result of an increase in “suspicious” deaths in the county. Every time someone dies of a drug overdose, the case is considered suspicious until a medical report rules death came from drugs and not foul play.
For the current fiscal year, the county budgeted another $95,000 for medical examiner fees.
• Also on the agenda of commissioners is a resolution in support of Project Press, an unnamed economic development project.
As the grant applicant, Surry County will ask for $493,480 in N.C. Department of Commerce Industrial Development Fund Grant monies, according to the resolution.
• Commissioners will also consider appointments and re-appointments to the county’s Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, and the board will name a voting delegate to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners’ annual conference in August. They will also consider the appointment of a member of the county’s Health Board.
• By state statute, commissioners hold the authority to name public and private roads in Surry County. However, they must hold a public hearing in which the public may speak about any of those names prior to approving those names.
That public hearing will occur Monday evening.
Monday’s meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Surry County Government Center, which is located at 118 Hamby Road in Dobson.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.