Wayne County Jail inmates frequently struggle with opioid addiction.

Treatment programs help those inmates for the days, weeks or months they are incarcerated, but Sheriff Randy Retter would like to increase those programs’ impact. He addressed Wayne County’s commissioners Sept. 13 about receiving some of the county’s 2023 opioid settlement disbursement.

“What my goal is, is to be able to provide them with the equipment, training or other features that they might be able to use to help make them more effective and more efficient in their programs,” Retter said about those working with inmates.

Retter said extending the help provided past an inmate’s release also is important. He said the first 96 hours after release are critical to prevent immediate relapses.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office estimates Wayne County this year will receive $426,542.13 from settlements reached with drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies as compensation for their roles in the opioid epidemic. Money is scheduled to be distributed through 2038.

Earlier this year, commissioners awarded seven projects $411,000 from the county’s 2022 disbursement, mostly focused on transitional housing. Commissioners are beginning to explore ways to use the 2023 disbursement.

Retter also said his agency needs about 20 more automated external defibrillators at $1,000 to $1,500 each. The AEDs help save lives during overdoses, Retter said. He also indicated that opioid money could help his agency acquire another K-9 officer.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters said she wants opioid settlement money to help provide shelter for homeless opioid users during cold weather. Butters said shelters turn away those who test positive for opioids, saying that contributed to deaths last year in Richmond.

“I really don’t think Wayne County should have more women or men or children die with the winter that’s coming fast upon us,” Butters said.

Youth coordinator

Commissioners voted 3-0 to fund a Drug Free Wayne County Partnership youth coordinator position through the fourth quarter.

Tim Pierson, the DFWCP’s executive director, said the grant that funds that part-time position and a full-time coordinator position ends Sept. 30. The youth coordinator works with schools to develop and run programs targeting marijuana and alcohol abstinence and development of protective factors while reducing risk factors.

The approved proposal was for up to 20 hours per week with a wage of $15 per hour. Commissioners will decide later what money — possibly opioid settlement money — will pay for the position. They also will then consider whether to fund the position into 2024.

HELP approvals

Wayne County’s Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program representatives are presenting the strategic investment plan to participating communities. The plan involves 33 projects with a $25 million investment.

Commissioners and county council approved the plan Sept. 6. Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said Cambridge City, East Germantown, Milton and Spring Grove also approved their projects and American Rescue Plan Act dollar allocations. Economy was scheduled to receive the SIP presentation Sept. 13, with Dublin scheduled Sept. 26 and Richmond scheduled Oct. 2.

“We’re moving forward and starting to put together some of the pieces of how these programs and projects might work, and getting the buy-in from the communities to take the next steps,” Plasterer said.

Deed sale

Wayne County sold 13 properties for $73,500 during a Sept. 8 deed sale.

The sale was originally conducted June 6; however, a group of winning bidders who did not pay for their properties sabotaged the attempt. The group did the same thing in other Indiana counties.

Wayne County implemented a $500 payment to receive a bidding paddle for the September sale, and there were no issues during the sale. Winning bids ranged from the minimum $100 for bare land sites to $14,000 for 114 N. 19th St.

The county spent about $2,000 to mow the properties during the three months the properties were deeded to the commissioners.

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A version of this article appeared in the September 20 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.