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Mayors' Summit Provides Forum for Discussion 
In a show of unity, Mayors Madeline Rogero and Mayor Glenn Jacobs, brought together elected leaders, community non-profits, government, education and employers to highlight the challenges posed by opioids and other substances in Knoxville and Knox County. “The intertwined issues of mental illness, homelessness, and public safety make substance misuse one of the most complex issues that a Mayor – in a City or County – will face,” stated Mayor Rogero.

Karen Pershing, Executive Director for the Metro Drug Coalition, kicked off the gathering of approximately 75 people at the East Tennessee History Center on October 18th. Three panels, focused on Criminal Justice, Education and Employment, and Health, provided updates on current programs as well as the challenges ahead.
Each panel recognized that they touch one part of the problem.

As public defender Mark Stephens shared, the criminal justice system is not designed to meet or address the challenges of addiction – and repeated consequences don’t often provide the leverage needed for changing behavior for those suffering from the substance misuse.

Tennessee remains one of the highest prescribers of opioids in the U.S., even though numbers are slowly decreasing. Other statistics, such as the number of children born drug dependent are starting to level off as well; however, the key indicators of fatal and non-fatal overdoses continue to rise in Knox County and Tennessee.
Mayor Rogero pointed to Huntington, West Virginia, as an example of change. Huntington, often referred to as ‘the epicenter of America’s opioid epidemic” has finally begun to experience a reduction in overdoses and overdose deaths.” Mayor Rogero visited with Mayor Steve Williams of Huntington, West Virginia during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. as part of the National League of Cities’ Congressional briefing on the opioid crisis.

In additoin to Mayor Ron Williams of Farragut, attendees included City Council members, Knox County Commissioners, and members of the Knox County delegation in the Tennessee General Assembly. Leiutenant Governor Randy McNally was joined by Senators Massey and Briggs, as well as Representatives Rick Staples, Jason Zachary and Martin Daniel.

Mayor Madeline Rogero addresses the crowd gathered at the 2018 Mayors' Summit on Substance Misuse.

Knoxville City Councilman Finnbar Saunders at one of the tables during the breakout session.

Attendees discuss and gather information and gaps on programs underway in the community around substance misuse.
Posted by fmcanally On 18 October, 2018 at 4:32 PM