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Opioid board to add members

AUSTINTOWN — The 11-member regional board tasked with allocating funds from the OneOhio National Opioid Settlement throughout the Mahoning Valley could have two new members by its next meeting.

The OneOhio Recovery Foundation board is the statewide body tasked with allocating money to 19 regions throughout the state, to allow communities to use the settlement funds to localize their approach in combating the opioid epidemic. The Region 7 board, which represents Trumbull and Mahoning counties, met for the third time Monday at Direction Home of Eastern Ohio in Austintown.

Duane Piccirilli, the Region 7 representative on the state board, said there is not a clear indication as to when money will be disbursed. He said the distribution of the settlement funds is going slower than anyone likes.

The county commissioners have created guidelines for who would serve on the regional board. From each county, there is the director of the mental health and recovery board, a representative nominated by the township association, a representative for the mayors, an individual with lived experience of the opioid epidemic and one individual with professional experience in prevention, treatment or abatement. The CEO of Direction Home of Eastern Ohio, a local resource for those aging and with disabilities, also is on the board, bringing the total number of members to 11.

After the individuals who would serve the first two-year terms on the board were finalized, one Trumbull County resident brought to the attention of the Trumbull County commissioners at their Oct. 13 meeting that no people of color were serving on the board.

“I’ve worked in this field for over 30 years and I am 44 years in recovery from my own addiction,” Carol Henderson, who is a member of the board of directors for the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said. “I would just like for two more people of color to be on this committee, so it would represent the face of the county and the diversity of our county.”

At its November meeting, the Region 7 board unanimously approved a motion to ask the Trumbull and Mahoning County commissioners to appoint an additional member — one from each county — representing diversity, equity and inclusion in the region.

Last week, both boards of commissioners approved resolutions to amend the existing memorandum of understanding that outlines Region 7 board membership to include two members to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion.

April Caraway and Piccirilli, the directors of the Trumbull and Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery boards, respectively, both said they have recommended possible members to their respective board of commissioners.

Also during the Region 7 board meeting Monday, members discussed revisions to the draft Request for Investment application that those applying for grant money eventually will use to submit their proposals to the board.

The Region 7 board will not deal directly with funds. Instead, it will receive applications for funds from local groups and organizations and make recommendations to the OneOhio Recovery Board, which will review the recommendations to make sure the funds are used for a valid purpose as determined by the settlement. The state board is made up of 29 members. Five of the members were selected by the governor, one was selected by the attorney general, four were selected by the state Legislature and the other members will come from each of the 19 regions. Piccirilli is this region’s representative.

The foundation will be responsible for 55 percent of the money earned through the settlement, which it will distribute to the regions through the state board.

Thirty percent will be allocated to localities, likely through the governor, to address the immediate needs of residents. The first round of funding for municipalities was announced by Gov. Mike DeWine in July.

Fifteen percent will go to the state of Ohio to be used to leverage statewide buying power to offer prevention, treatment and recovery support services.

escott@tribtoday.com

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