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State leader bringing USDA opioid programs here

By News-Examiner staff

A federal official with statewide responsibilities will talk about bringing more effort to bear on the opioid drug situation in Fayette County on Thursday.

During a special joint meeting of the county commissioners and county council, Michael Dora, state director for USDA Rural Development in Indiana, will talk about regional opioid problems and potential resolutions, according to Gary Naylor, a Fayette County Commissioner.

The Fayette County Commissioners and Fayette County Council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in the commissioners room at the Fayette County courthouse, 401 Central Ave. The meeting is open to the public.

Dora will speak “about the opioid epidemic and how we can best complement the hospital (Fayette Regional Health System) and its detox center,” Naylor said. Dora will talk about taking a regional approach to reducing the drug situation.

“He is very much interested in this area being a success both for the region and the nation,” Naylor said. 

USDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has launched an emphasis on the drug problem through its Rural Development Agency. In late April, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett unveiled a new webpage featuring resources to help rural communities respond to the opioid crisis.

“While no corner of the country has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, small towns and rural places have been particularly hard hit,” Hazlett said. “The challenge of opioid misuse is an issue of rural prosperity and will take all hands on deck to address.”

According to the website, www.usda.gov/topics/opioids, USDA Rural Development has three grant programs to help address the situation. All provide funding for locally developed programs.

• Community Facilities Program Grants: Rural communities and nonprofit organizations can apply for up to $150,000 in grants for innovative projects, such as mobile treatment clinics. 

• Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants: USDA will give priority to applications for projects to provide opioid misuse prevention, treatment, or recovery services. 

• Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program: Grants are for individual and family health education programs to help rural communities address significant health issues. 

Grant application deadlines for all three programs are in a matter of weeks.

According to the USDA website, the agency became involved in the opioid situation after national farm organizations expressed a need to address it. The website states, “Rates of drug-related deaths in rural areas has surpassed those in urban centers. We are partnering with rural leaders to combat this crisis.”