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Region’s leaders will gather for summit on county’s opioid crisis

Jan 31, 2018
In The News

Some of the biggest names in Pierce County and Washington state politics will gather Friday at the University of Washington Tacoma for an “opioid summit” to discuss efforts to address the related crisis facing the county and the region.

“The Pierce County Council took the first step and declared an opioid crisis in Pierce County last year. This summit is a small part of the action behind that declaration,” said Pierce County Councilman Derek Young, in a news release announcing the event.

The summit, an invitation-only event, will feature remarks by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, and Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Tacoma, and Denny Heck, D-Olympia. County Executive Bruce Dammeier will speak, as will Sheriff Paul Pastor and Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. Young and Tacoma City Councilman Conor McCarthy will close the event with a post-mortem and discussion of future plans. Most of the event, aside from table discussions, will be live-streamed on the county’s Facebook page.

A keynote speech will come from Caleb Banta-Green, Ph.D., an opioid expert and researcher at the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. Former KIRO-TV anchor Penny LeGate will attend and discuss the Marah Project, founded in honor of her daughter, who died of a heroin overdose.

The summit adds another element to a continuing public push to raise awareness about the opioid crisis. In addition to last year’s declaration of crisis, Young convened an opioid task force, which has held monthly meetings since spring 2017. The task force is devising an action agenda, intended to seek the best local strategies to address the opioid issue.