(Coal Township) – – A public forum to discuss the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic will be held Thursday, May 19, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at Shamokin Area High School. The forum is sponsored by State Senator John R. Gordner, State Representatives Kurt Masser and Lynda Schlegel Culver and Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley.
“I am pleased that we have been able to arrange a top-tier panel for this important discussion on drug abuse,” said Senator Gordner. “I hope the public can attend and help us identify the community effort that needs to be in place to halt this epidemic.”
The forum will feature Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Secretary Gary Tennis, a nationally recognized expert in drug and alcohol abuse. Secretary Tennis is the former Chair of the National Alliance on Model Drug Laws and serves on the Board of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. He has served as the state’s Drug and Alcohol Secretary since 2011.
“Unfortunately, heroin and opioid abuse is a recurring issue that continues to negatively affect our communities,” said Rep. Culver. “I believe that community awareness is one of the keys to correcting this problem. I encourage parents, students, caretakers, teachers and all community members to attend this informational forum.’
Also presenting at the forum will be Deb Beck, Executive Director of the Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania (DASPOP). DASPOP is a statewide coalition of drug and alcohol abuse prevention, education and treatment providers. Beck, a Northumberland County native, has led the group since the 1980’s. Mount Carmel Police Chief Todd Owens, a member of the County Drug Task Force, will represent law enforcement and a representative of the Pennsylvania Medical Society will discuss medical issues.
“Sadly, many of us have been impacted in some way by the heroin and opioid abuse happening in our area,” said Rep. Masser. “This is truly an epidemic and I remain focused on ways we can address this issue. Education and awareness are two of the tools we need to help teach our kids to live drug free lives. This is what this forum is about and I encourage people to attend.”
Following the presentations, the public is invited to participate in an open question/answer and comment session. Local and county officials are also invited to participate in this part of the forum. Coroner Kelley will act as the moderator.
“This open forum will give the public the opportunity to not only hear, but also ask questions of experts in drug abuse and addiction, lawmakers and the local Drug Task Force,” said Kelley. “With the heroin and drug epidemic currently ravaging our communities, I hope the auditorium is filled to capacity.”
Todd B. Roup (Sen. Gordner) 717-787-8928
Krisinda Corbin (Reps. Culver and Masser) 717-705-2032
Coroner James Kelley 570-988-4539