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Press Release

Community leaders collaborate to tackle drug abuse in North Central West Virginia

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – Community leaders in Monongalia, Marion, and Harrison Counties announced the formation of a working group to address drug addiction and overdoses in the region.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, made the announcement along with officials from a variety of professions, including education, law enforcement, healthcare, treatment, and the news media.  Ihlenfeld will serve as co-chair of the group, which will present an addiction action plan to the community in the spring.

“Addiction has grabbed ahold of communities in North Central West Virginia and we’re committed to pursuing innovative and tangible ways to loosen that grip,” stated Ihlenfeld.  “The number of heroin overdose deaths in West Virginia continues to rise and this has become more than just a law enforcement problem – it’s a true public health crisis.”

The working group is part of the United States Attorney’s Addiction Action Plan, a program designed to target drug abuse by capitalizing on synergies created by bringing together leaders from fields relevant to the issue. The goals of the group include decreasing heroin use, promoting increased access to quality substance abuse treatment, choking off the supply of heroin to the region, and making North Central West Virginia stronger, safer, and healthier.

The subcommittees that comprise the Addiction Action Plan will be led by a diverse group of leaders from North Central West Virginia, including:

• Dr. Carl “Rolly” Sullivan, MD • Director, Addictions Program, WVU School of Medicine
• Dr. James Berry, MD • Director, Inpatient Addiction Services, WVU Health Sciences Center
• Dr. Patrick Ryan • Director of Behavioral Medicine, Fairmont General Hospital
• Dr. Frank Devono • Superintendent, Monongalia County Schools
• Aaron Williams • News Director, WBOY-TV
• John Miller • Executive Editor, The Clarksburg Exponent Telegram
• Barbara Evans Fleischauer • Representative, W.Va. House of Delegates
• Edward Preston • Chief, Morgantown Police Department
• Kelley Moran • Chief, Fairmont Police Department
• Louis Ortenzio • Senior Ministry Leader, Celebrate Recovery
• Jo Anne McNemar • Harrison County Prevention Partnership
• Ted Offutt • Marion County Day Report Center Director

“Public comments at the recent town hall meeting at Bridgeport High School in Harrison County made it very clear that now is the time for swift action,” said Ihlenfeld.  “I’m confident that the working group that we’ve formed will develop an inventive and comprehensive approach to combat addiction in the region.”

Individuals interested in obtaining additional information on the Addiction Action Plan are encouraged to contact the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia at (304) 234-0100.  Regular updates on the progress of the Addiction Action Plan will be available via the official Twitter feed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, @NDWVnews.

Updated January 8, 2016