HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, chaired by State Senator Gene Yaw, will hold a public hearing in Williamsport on Thursday, October 26 to gather information on what is being done at the federal, state and local levels to tackle the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic.
Senator Yaw will preside over the hearing and will be joined by fellow Center Board Members Vice Chairman Representative Garth Everett, Board Secretary Dr. Nancy Falvo of Clarion University, President of Indiana University of Pennsylvania Dr. Michael Driscoll and Penn State Professor Dr. Timothy Kelsey.
Presenters are Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health/Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Jennifer Smith, U.S. DEA Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle, Lycoming County President Judge Nancy Butts, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Dr. Janice Pringle and Dr. Lynn Mirigian, Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt, Williamsport Police Chief David Young, West Branch Drug and Alcohol Commission Executive Director Shea Madden, Project Bald Eagle Executive Director Steve Murphy Shope, UPMC Susquehanna Dr. Bradley Miller, and Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr.
“The goal of this hearing is to bring people back to the table to find out where we are today in combating the heroin and opioid epidemic that continues to devastate our rural and urban communities,” Yaw said. “Are we any better off today than we were three years ago?
In 2014, the Center held its first public hearing on the heroin and opioid crisis affecting the Commonwealth. That hearing, also held in Williamsport, was followed by 11 additional public hearings over the next two years. Those hearings created statewide awareness supporting and resulting in numerous legislative and administrative initiatives to combat a disease that now claims more lives each year than those lost to traffic accidents.
“Every day throughout the U.S., 150 people die from a drug overdose,” Yaw said. “150 lives lost every day. We can’t allow this epidemic to continue to do this to our communities.”
The public hearing will be held in the Walnut Conference Center at UPMC Susquehanna, 700 High Street, Williamsport, PA 17701 and will begin at 9 AM.
Members of the public and media are invited to attend.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.5 million rural residents.
Barry Denk, Director
Center for Rural Pennsylvania