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Mon Commission gets update on quick response team, approves $8.4 million in bond notes

MORGANTOWN — “We’re in a tight spot,” David Didden told the Monongalia County Commission on Wednesday.

Didden, the medical director of overdose prevention and innovation projects at the WV Bureau for Public Health, was on hand to talk about the success of the Monongalia County Quick Response Team.

In just over three years, the MCQRT has grown from a pilot program to an example and a mentor, as more than a dozen agencies work together to identify, contact and assist individuals in the days following an overdose.

The goal is to establish a connection through peer-recovery professionals that results in recovery.

Education and distribution of naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, is another primary objective.

The results are drawing attention.

The MCQRT was recently recognized with a United States Attorney Award.   

Didden said he’s spent the last two years studying the state’s QRT programs. Monongalia County, he added, is leading the charge.

“This model; what you have going on here in Mon County, I think, is one of the best examples of how we’re going to get out of this tight spot,” Didden said. “It’s got to be local. It’s got to be led by people who know the community, who know the resources.”

Members of the commission said the body is ready and willing to assist in that process. Commissioner Sean Sikora was recently asked by a QRT member how the county intended to utilize the funds it will receive through the various settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

“We’re going to deal with it by getting the people in the room that know better. You guys know better,” Sikora said, adding, “when we have that funding that comes down from those lawsuits, we’re looking to you guys as far as how do we want to make best of use of this so we can help you solve this problem.”

Creation of the response team was spearheaded by the Monongalia County Health Department, using a federal grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Also on Wednesday, the commission authorized the issuance of $8,490,000 in bond anticipation notes tied to the University Town Centre Economic Opportunity Development District

The short-term notes come with an interest rate of 6.25% and mature June 1, 2024.

The purpose of the issuance is to be able to refund some of the existing bonds at today’s interest rates instead of rolling the dice on what interest rates might look like down the road.

Ryan Lynch, representing developer WestRidge, said the move is in anticipation of new development in the district.

“We anticipate several exciting announcements in 2023. They’re all new-to-market entrants and they should be under construction next year,” Lynch said. “Some of them will be later in the year, but there will be some big ones in the first half of 2023.”

In other county news, Commissioner Jeff Arnett was appointed by the body to serve as the county’s representative on the Morgantown Community Resources Board of Directors.

MCR is the nonprofit organization that manages the Hazel’s House of Hope property.

Both the county and city of Morgantown have been consistent contributors to the facilities and programming at the social services hub.

On Tuesday, Morgantown City Council appointed Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble to represent the city.

Lastly, the commission approved a half-day holiday for county employees on Friday but noted the anticipated winter weather could result in the closure of county facilities for the entire day.

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