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Schuh Expands “Safe Stations” Initiative to Battle County’s Opioid Crisis

County Executive Steve Schuh today announced that Anne Arundel County will invest $200,000 to expand the “Safe Stations” anti-opioid initiative across Anne Arundel County.

   

According to Eye On Annapolis,

The program’s expansion was made possible as a result of a $287,000 grant from the Hogan-Rutherford Administration, which recently pledged $22 million across the state to help fight the heroin opioid epidemic. Schuh also announced the remaining funds will dedicated to expanding the County’s education and outreach efforts.

“Every day our Safe Stations program is working to help our citizens break the cycle of addiction,” said Schuh. “We thank Governor Hogan for recognizing the effectiveness of this program and for making this expansion possible. The State of Maryland has been a fantastic part as we work to turn the tide against this horrific national epidemic.”

“Our ability to succeed in fighting this epidemic will continue to be driven by the significant support and cooperation of our federal and state agencies and local coordinated teams. Today’s announcement by County Executive Schuh is another example of Maryland’s commitment to combat the heroin and opioid crisis,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “By partnering with our local communities, we are increasing prevention through education and protection through enforcement, and ensuring that treatment services are available to those who need them, when they need them.”

The $200,000 investment will help add personnel to Anne Arundel County’s Crisis Response Teams to ensure their quicker deployment.

Launched on April 20th of this year, the Safe Stations program designated each Anne Arundel County and Annapolis City Fire Station, as well as County and City police stations, as a safe environment for individuals looking for assistance to start their path to recovery from heroin/opioid addiction.

At any time of day or night that an Anne Arundel County resident who is the victim of a heroin/opioid addiction decides or gathers up the courage to ask for help, they can go to any Anne Arundel County or Annapolis City Fire Station and speak to the personnel on duty. In close partnership with the Anne Arundel County Police and the Crisis Response Team, individuals seeking help will be assisted in obtaining the necessary detoxification resources.

Upon arrival to a designated Safe Station, the firefighters and paramedics will perform a medical assessment not to exceed their scope of training as Maryland Emergency Medical Services providers. If there is cause for concern that there is something else medically wrong with the patient, transportation to an appropriate medical facility will be completed.

The Crisis Response Warmline is then contacted at 410-768-5522 and advised that a Safe Station patient is being transported to the hospital by EMS. The Crisis Response Team will communicate with the hospital staff to ensure a handoff from the medical facility to crisis response.

If no immediate medical issue is identified, the Warmline is contacted and advised that there is a Safe Station case. Crisis Response Team works closely with the individual in the station to determine the best resource and destination available.

To date, the Safe Stations program has helped connect 94 citizens to treatment in the County.

Read the full article for more information.

NACo’s 2017-2018 Presidential Initiative: Serving the Underserved

In his first act as the new president of the National Association of Counties (NACo), Tarrant County, Texas Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks announced at the annual conference that “Serving the Underserved” will be NACo’s 2017-2018 Presidential Initiative.

Remarks from The Honorable Brooks:

“From early childhood development to workforce development, from homelessness to health, counties are investing in services that break cycles of poverty and help people thrive. Counties put people first, but poverty can push them to the end of the line. We are partnering with the public, private and non-profit sectors at the federal, state and local levels to remove barriers, build opportunities and address the many faces of poverty in America.”

Additional background from NACo about ‘Serving the Underserved’:

On June 30, NACo released “Counties Addressing Poverty: Serving the Underserved” – a new report on the county role in combating poverty. The report examines at the varying poverty rates across our nation’s counties, county anti-poverty efforts and federal economic opportunity programs that are county-administered. Additionally, the report includes recommendations for Congress on how they can engage with local decision makers as they work to reauthorize and improve federal poverty programs.

Serving the Underserved: Counties Addressing Poverty (July 2017 NACo Report)

Not Just Fun and Games

While they began in the gaming industry, Balti Virtual of Baltimore, Maryland now builds software for augmented and virtual reality platforms that could support a variety of business and government needs.

You could be playing this game for your job

Screenshot 2017-07-24 20.16.59
For a full explanation, come to MACo’s Summer Conference Tech Expo, August 16, 2017.

Balti Virtual’s transition from gaming technology to business applications mimics a move of the marketplace, too. Virtual reality and augmented reality may become standards in training and career education.

From Balti Virtual:

From early childhood education to highly skilled job training, the use of virtual and augmented reality are powerful ways to transfer knowledge to a range of ages.

A few of Balti Virtual’s clients include Northrop Grumman, PayPal, Stanley Black & Decker and Under Armour.

Still think that augmented reality has nothing to offer government?

Well, here are a few suggestions from Balti Virtual:

Supplementing a live view of the user’s environment with computer generated images opens the door to powerful learning and productivity applications.

Imagine a construction worker with up-to-the-second blueprints projected over their work area. Or a Fort McHenry visitor watching the Battle of Baltimore unfold around them.

AR [augmented reality] makes this possible.

Balti Virtual will be coming to MACo’s Summer Conference Tech Expo to show off the work they’ve done in AR (augmented reality), and they might even throw in some of their trademark temporary tattoos that interact with a mobile app for attendees. (See more about augmented reality HaloTats in Are HoloTats augmented reality’s next big fad?)

Will Gee of Balti Virtual will be speaking on the panel, Headsets On: Get Ready for Virtual Reality and the Social Shake-Up, and demoing augmented reality at the Tech Expo on Wednesday August 16.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

Baltimore City Councilman Introduces ‘Tenant Legal Assistance Fund’ Bill

Baltimore City Councilman Robert Stokes has introduced a bill to help fund legal assistance for low-income tenants facing disputes with their landlords.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

If Councilman Robert Stokes’ bill is approved, the city would ask voters to amend the city charter in next year’s election to establish a Tenant Legal Assistance Fund and authorize the mayor and council to dedicate money to it.

The fund would help pay for lawyers to represent tenants in Baltimore’s rent court, where most renters arrive without attorneys to face landlords who almost always have some form of representation. It would also “provide legal assistance to low-income renters facing eviction,” assist renters in disputes with landlords and try to make renters more aware of their legal rights.

The bill calls for financing the fund with dedicated city revenue — fines and fees — plus grants from private foundations and charities.

A Baltimore Sun investigation this year showed that the city spends twice as much on processing evictions than it does on working to prevent them, as the city experiences one of the highest rates of evictions in the nation.

Baltimore spent $2.7 million in fiscal year 2016 for sheriff’s deputies to oversee nearly 70,000 eviction orders, while allocating $1.3 million for services to prevent evictions or homelessness.

The city reported preventing 68 evictions in fiscal year 2016 with the $130,000 it gave Maryland Legal Aid. It provided $35,000 to the Public Justice Center, which reported preventing 40 evictions.

There is support in City Hall for increasing funding for tenant lawyers.

Read the full article in The Baltimore Sun to learn more.

Conowingo: One Dam, Two Views

A Baltimore Sun editorial (2017-07-19) and a Clean Chesapeake Coalition letter to the Washington Post (2017-07-07) offer contrasting views on addressing the sediment and nutrient pollution caused by the Susquehanna River and the Conowingo Dam. The Sun editorial argued that addressing the Conowingo issue should not necessarily be a top State priority based nor should it be done in lieu of addressing other locally impaired waterways or be based on political rhetoric similar to that used in the stormwater remediation fee/”rain tax” debate.  The Clean Chesapeake letter argued that the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) already address local water pollution and that addressing the Conowingo should be a top State priority.

From the Sun editorial:

Maryland and the other states in the Chesapeake watershed need to take an “all of the above” approach to protecting the bay from pollution, whether it comes from chicken manure, parking lot runoff, failing septic tanks, sewage spills or anything else.

The problem with pointing a finger at the Conowingo is that first, it’s a difficult problem to “fix.” The most obvious remedy would be to dredge all the sediment behind the dam and truck it to some upland location. But Governor Hogan’s call for suggestions has so far produced some novel approaches such as using the silt to create pavers or countertops, dumping it into the ocean or turning it into concrete. That’s welcome, but the proposals all appear to be costly and no more than “nibble” at the huge inventory of sediment, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already estimated would cost billions of dollars to remove. The second is that this isn’t necessarily the pollution source that should be the top priority for Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.

Why? Because while that silt and sediment flowing over the Conowingo can certainly be described as pollution, it primary has an impact on the Chesapeake Bay’s central stem, the deep water that already has problems with low dissolved oxygen. However, the sediment overflow doesn’t really affect valued tributaries like the Potomac, Choptank, Chester or Pocomoke rivers, which contain some of the most critical and environmentally sensitive habitats in the watershed. Nor is it clear that dredging silt from behind the Conowingo (no matter what you do with the dredge material) is the most cost-effective way to reduce the muck coming from the Susquehanna or, in particular, the excess nitrogen and phosphorus those sediments contain. …

In the Conowingo, the governor has correctly identified a problem for Chesapeake Bay water quality, but he speaks of it in a misleading fashion, much as he did with the “rain tax.” Mr. Hogan eventually came around on storm water pollution by making the fees optional while actually better enforcing anti-storm water rules. There’s similar hope for the Conowingo, where any new approach to sediment control is welcome as long as it doesn’t compromise the ongoing federal and state partnership and “pollution diet,” the comprehensive plan to reduce all forms of pollution leading to the bay.

From the Clean Chesapeake Coalition letter:

 

We have “pollution diets”, mandates, bureaucrats and [Non-governmental organizations] galore waving the Bay restoration banner, but no commitment or plan to specifically address the devastating amounts of nutrients, sediment and other contaminants that are scoured into the Bay during storm events and in equally harmful proportions now on a regular basis because the reservoir above Conowingo Dam is full. …

My fellow Clean Chesapeake Coalition county officials and I refuse to accept as the new normal for the Maryland portion of the Bay that all of the reservoirs in the lower Susquehanna River are full, that enormous amounts of Susquehanna River pollution are no longer being trapped, that more storms and harmful scour are inevitable and that dredging Conowingo reservoir is off the table.

The owner of Conowingo Dam (Exelon Corp.) is seeking a 46-year relicense from the federal government. How many storm events can we expect during that period, and how much scoured pollution from Conowingo reservoir, unless we have a plan?

Fortunately, Governor Hogan and his Administration are committed to developing a plan to manage the accumulated sediments in the lower Susquehanna River, regain trapping capacity behind Conowingo and give the Bay some breathing room until Pennsylvania gets its act together.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Conowingo Dam

Washington Post Article on Conowingo Dam (2017-07-04)

Clean Chesapeake Coalition Website

There will be a facilitated discussion on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load and the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference. Check out the “What Will We See in Phase III? A Bay TMDL Update” on Friday, August 18.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Study to Review Impact of Wicomico Tax Revenue Cap

It’s been 17 years since Wicomico County voters supported a property tax revenue cap, a controversial move that limits how much money the county can collect each year.

According to Delmarvanow,

Now a new study sponsored by the Greater Salisbury Committee will take a look at what impact it has had and how it may affect the future of the county.

“We think it’s appropriate to simply take a look at it,” said Mike Dunn, the group’s president and CEO. “We want people to know what the law of the land is.”

The cap limits new revenue from property taxes to 2 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. The CPI has been less than 2 percent during the past five years.

The study by Memo Diriker, director of the Business Economic and Community Outreach Network, or BEACON, at Salisbury University, and a group of graduate students is expected to be released this fall, Dunn said.

The revenue cap came about following a tax revolt led by a group called VOICE, or Voters Opposed to Increased County-City Expenditures, after the County Council in 1999 approved a 46-cent property tax hike and a 1 percent increase in the property transfer tax.

VOICE founders Don Coffin, John Palmer and Jack Plummer were successful in getting their proposal for a revenue cap on the ballot for the 2000 election. It was supported by more than 60 percent of the voters and went into effect the following year.

Dunn said Palmer and Plummer both met with Greater Salisbury Committee members who are serving on the committee looking at the revenue cap to offer a better sense of what happened in 1999.

Many younger county residents have no idea there is a revenue cap or remember the “great political battle” of 2000, including a lot of up-and-coming civic and business leaders under the age of 40, Dunn said.

“These people were literally in high school,” he said.

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver and members of the County Council were all informed about the study when it got underway last year, Dunn said. Once completed, it will be presented to the Greater Salisbury Committee membership, then to Culver and the County Council.

Previous examinations of the revenue cap may have been politically motivated, but Dunn said the new study will take an unbiased look at the cap and the effects it has had.

Through the years, county officials have discussed the possibility of increasing the cap, especially when the Great Recession hit and the budget had to be cut by as much as 20 percent, said County Council President John Cannon.

But the County Council was politically conservative then as it is now, and resisted making changes to the cap, he said.

If council members wanted to change the cap or repeal it altogether, they would have to amend the county charter, said County Council Administrator Laura Hurley. The council would first have to approve the charter amendment and then it would go to referendum. If the majority of the votes are in favor of the charter amendment, it would go into effect 30 days following the election.

Cannon said so far no one seems inclined to seek a change in the cap.

 “I can’t see where it’s had a negative impact on the county,” he said. “We haven’t seen a need or desire to raise it above that level.”

Read the full article for more information.

Learn to Save a Life at #MACoCon – Overdose and CPR Training

“Stayin’ Alive” – Learn to Save a Life with Naloxone Training for Opioid Overdoses and Hands-Only CPR Training

Description: Participants will receive in-person, hands-on training and certification in recognizing and responding to opioid overdose with Naloxone. This prescription medication can safely and effectively reverse an opioid (heroin and prescription pain reliever) overdose. Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certificate and a kit containing educational materials and the medication. Participants will also receive training in hands-only CPR. Bystander CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. Get certified today – and find out how the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive” can actually help you keep someone alive.

Speaker: Gregory Branch, Wm, MD, MBA, CPE, FACP, MACHO President, Baltimore County Health Officer

Date/Time: Wednesday, August 16, 2017; 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Best Practices for Public Safety Hires at #MACoCon

Hear about the challenges and best practices related to hiring local public safety officials (law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and 9-1-1 operators) at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

The Key to Public Safety: Locking Down Your Hiring Process

Description

Law enforcement and correctional officers form the backbone of our public safety system. These jobs are both challenging and demanding, and properly vetting potential candidates during the interview process is critical. Carefully chosen candidates not only protect citizens but also reduce the risk of liability and human resource issues in the future. Speakers will discuss how to structure the interview and candidate search process, the best way to interview for a public safety position, and lessons learned from a human resources perspective.

Speakers

  • Timothy Cameron, Sheriff, St. Mary’s County
  • Captain Lisa Myers, Human Resources Bureau, Howard County Police Department
  • Anna Sierra, Director of Emergency Services, Dorchester County

Moderator: The Honorable Cheryl Kagan, Maryland Senate

Date & Time: Friday, August 18, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

stephen cox
Stephen Cox will speak about opportunities for high school students to learn about fire service in Harford County.

It’s back to the future for Maryland’s students. Not all need a college degree to succeed, but training will be key.

Schools are changing course to prepare students for a new economy, including careers that will not require study at a four-year undergraduate institution. And even for those who pursue higher education, technical skills will be an asset. Hear how high schools are incorporating careers into the classroom through partnership with industry experts, and programs that provide job training and certification at this year’s summer conference session, Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads: Let Career Training Transport Maryland Students.

  • Speakers:
    • Stephen Cox, Cadet Program Coordinator, Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association
    • Lynne Gilli, Assistant State Superintendent Division of Career and College Readiness, Maryland State Department of Education
    • Michael Thomas, Director, Office of Learning to Work, Baltimore City Public Schools
    • Kristine Pearl, Supervisor Career and Technology Education, Frederick County Public Schools
  • Moderator: The Honorable Jim Rosapepe, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Saturday, August 19, 2017; 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

Police: Opioid Overdose Spike in Anne Arundel Due to Prescription Painkillers

With 2017 now at a record-setting pace for opioid overdose deaths in Anne Arundel County, police say a string of fatalities are due to medical emergencies now understood to be caused by prescription painkillers.

According to The Capital Gazette,

The county has now seen 85 deaths due to opioid overdoses as of Wednesday, 10 more than during the same period last year.

But while the vast majority are attributed to heroin and fentanyl, police say this uptick is largely because a number of deaths with previously unknown causes now being classified as due to prescription painkillers.

Police spokesman Marc Limansky said 12 of the 15 overdose deaths reported as new from last week are the result of four months’ worth of unknown fatalities being characterized as due to prescription opioids by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

He said several of the cases were originally reported to be overdoses on unknown prescriptions. He said some were situations where police had found a victim dead at the scene and the initial investigation could only determine that the person had overdosed, but not from what.

Health officials have warned doctors throughout the state about the risk of overprescribing the drugs as they say it can lead to their misuse or abuse.

“I think that if prescription opioids are available without people understanding or having (conversations) with their health care providers about their risks, that can lead to misuse,” said Sandy O’Neill, director of behavioral health services at the Anne Arundel County Department of Health.

Limansky and Annapolis police spokeswoman Cpl. Amy Miguez said police have responded to cases where people died after mixing or misunderstanding their dosage, especially if they are on other medications.

There is also still the worry that people who are prescribed opioids will develop a dependence on or tolerance to them, which many medical professionals say can lead users to turn to illicit street drugs like heroin when their prescription runs out.

County Executive Steve Schuh sent a letter to the region’s doctors and prescribers in May echoing these concerns.

“Most of our constituents with substance-use disorders began their path to addiction after forming dependencies to opioids prescribed as a result of an injury or other medical issue,” Schuh wrote in a joint letter with then-county Health Officer Jinlene Chan.

“Their opioid dependence may have led to obtaining illegal street opioids like heroin, sometimes laced with fentanyl, after valid prescriptions ran out.”

O’Neill said her department has seen many of the region’s prescribers begin to discuss alternative pain medication and treatment in the wake of the state’s opioid problem.

“It’s really important that people just have really candid conversations with their health care providers and ask those questions” about alternative treatment and risks, she said.

Read The Capital Gazette to learn more.

Learn how counties are utilizing a collaborative approach to address Maryland’s heroin and opioid epidemic at this year’s annual MACo Summer Conference, “You’re Hired!”. During the session, Attacking the Opioid Epidemic: A Collaborative Approach, state and local government officials will discuss how a collaborative approach inspires all stakeholders—across the boundaries of criminal justice, public health, and human services—to act as a single, integrated community and point the way toward powerful new solutions. More details about the session are available in the registration brochure.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: