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February Column - An Epidemic in Need of Action


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve all read the stories in the paper of the countless individuals suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic. There has been a lot of talk of families being ripped apart by this tragedy, too often we hear talk but see little action.

Legislator Ted Morton joined Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, Holland Central School Superintendent Cathy Fabiatos and Alden School Superintendent Adam Stoltman to announce continued funding for school resource officers (SRO) in several local districts. The SRO program provides a uniformed officer in schools as a way to promote student safety, conflict resolution and anti-bullying initiatives.


At a Legislative session held on September 21, 2017, Legislator Ted Morton honored Lancaster resident, Dick Young as the September 2017 Citizen of the month.


Today, in response to the County Executive’s offer to work with Legislator Morton to develop a compromise Made in America Act, Legislator Ted Morton wrote to him to begin the process.


Legislator Ted Morton first introduced the Made in America Act in support of local manufacturers and local workers in Erie County. After passing the Legislature by a vote of 9-1, the County Executive vetoed the law after instructing the County Attorney to draft a legal opinion.


We have heard a lot recently about the ongoing heroin epidemic that is plaguing our area. Many of us know of someone right here in our community who is suffering from this epidemic which has impacted people regardless of socio-economic status. This is an issue I take very personally. When I was in high school, my older brother died of a drug overdose. At 19 years old, he was robbed of his future, my mother faced the terrible pain of losing a child, and I was robbed of my older brother. That moment changed my life and has left a deep lasting scar.

In response to this crisis, my colleague, Legislator Lynne Dixon put together a public informational meeting at the legislature to begin the conversation on how we can respond to this issue. With a record breaking 200 opioid related fatalities in Erie County, the issue has become urgent. I commend Legislator Dixon for her leadership and look forward to working with her to find viable solutions.  A few months ago, a forum was held at Lancaster High School to begin to address the problem. As a result to the recent events, I am putting together a round table meeting and have begun reaching out to several community stakeholders so that we can form an action plan to help prevent further tragedy from occurring. Far too often I’ve heard from people telling me that many groups and organizations are trying to tackle the crisis, but there is very little collaboration to maximize our efforts.

The lack of coordination amongst our community only hurts our cause. Many times communities try to hide the fact that they face a problem with opioids. In reality it is far more prevalent than anyone realizes. I believe we need to shine a spotlight on the problem and tackle the issue head on. As a result of multiple conversations with community leaders, on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7p.m. at the Lancaster Youth Bureau, I’ll be hosting a roundtable with several organizations including the Police Department, the Lancaster Depew Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, the Lancaster School District, and many other organizations to coordinate and design a community action plan. By working together we can efficiently pool our resources to tackle the crisis head on.

There are some effective ways to treat an overdose with the introduction of a fairly new drug called Narcan. On Feb. 16, from 7 p.m.-9 p.m., the Town Line Fire Department, located at 6507 Broadway, will be hosting a Narcan training program to help first responders utilize the drug and save lives.

I hope you will all join me in combating the opioid epidemic to help make our community a better place. As always, if I can ever be of assistance, please call me at 858-8856 or email ted.morton@erie.gov.