JEFFERSON — Combatting what officials say is a growing opioid crisis in Ashe County, Ashe Memorial Hospital recently received a grant aimed at creating an extensive plan with community leaders to prevent and treat opioid addictions.
AMH was one of six North Carolina organizations to receive a $200,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Monday, May 13.
“It’s an opioid response program,” AMH CEO Laura Lambeth said. “The planning project is to implement and sustain substance abuse disorder and opioid use disorder in prevention, treatment and recovery services at a rural hospital.”
HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy awarded $24 million for the second round of Rural Communities Opioid Response Program planning grants. Recipients across 40 states will receive $200,000 for one year to formalize partnerships with local stakeholders, conduct needs assessments and develop plans to implement and sustain substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder, prevention, treatment and recovery interventions, according to a release from HRSA.
Other North Carolina recipients include Coastal Horizons Center in Wilmington, North Carolina Healthcare Quality Alliance in Chapel Hill, Robeson Health Care Corporation in Pembroke, United Way of Rutherford County in Forest City and Wilson County Substance Abuse Coalition in Wilson.
“Quite honestly, I didn’t think we had that much of a chance of being awarded,” Lambeth said. “Most of the opioid grants that I’ve seen over the last year have not gone to rural areas. They’ve gone to metropolitan areas, with the perception that the metropolitan areas have a larger problem with opioid abuse, and that’s not true.”
According to a release from AMH, the hospital has chosen to become the lead applicant for the Ashe Opioid Initiative Team. Current consortium members include the hospital, Daymark Recovery Services, the Ashe Community Paramedic Program, Ashe Medics, Ashe County Emergency Management, Vaya Health and more, according to the release. After an initial meeting May 20, Project Director Melodie Shepherd said the next meeting is tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of June 5.
Lambeth said the hospital also plans to partner with local law enforcement, including the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson Police Department and the West Jefferson Police Department.
“Just for Ashe County, we have a high rate of opioid deaths — 7 percent higher than the state average,” Lambeth said. “We have a prescribing rate 22 percent higher than the state. We’re gonna focus on decreasing those numbers.”
Lambeth said the hospital plans to be able to provide high-level treatment for patients with addiction issues.
“Not only treatment, but having a comprehensive plan in order to prevent patients from becoming addicted,” Lambeth said.
Shepherd added that longevity is important to the planning process.
“A key success point to this grant is making sure it’s sustainable — that we have a plan to continue on,” Shepherd said.
While helping those battling addictions is a goal of the process, Lambeth has even bigger aspirations for the group.
“We want to prevent individuals from becoming addicted at all,” Lambeth said. “That’s the key. You don’t want to see them after. You want to put a plan in place where you are working toward prevention for the community.”
CRUMPLER — Hundreds gathered at Ashelawn Memorial Chapel & Gardens in honor and remembrance of the military members who died fighting for America’s freedom on a sunny Sunday, May 26.
Graves adorned with stars, stripes and flowers fluttered in the breeze. Ashe County High School JROTC cadets bore each of America’s 50 state flags while music from the ACHS Jazz Ensemble and prayers were offered up in honor of fallen soldiers, airmen, seamen and coast guardsmen.
According to veteran speaker Shuford Edmisten of Hendersonville — who served in Vietnam and has since been an advocate for veterans through the American Legion, and a variety of other organizations — more than 1 million American men and women have died fighting for their country since the Revolutionary War.
“Long after the guns have been silenced and the bombs stopped exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent,” Edmisten said. “Spouses will continue to miss their life partners, and parents will never stop grieving for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early.”
Edmisten read the names of fallen soldiers buried in Ashe County, and the circumstances of their deaths, in order to keep their memories alive.
Ashe County Honor Guard fired a three-volley salute, taps was played, JROTC marched off with the flags, and the crowd began to disband.
Badger Funeral Home owner Josh Roten said Sunday’s ceremony was the 52nd annual Memorial Day event held at Ashelawn Memorial Chapel & Gardens.
“This is the largest Memorial Day service in the region,” Roten said. “We had a wonderful crowd, I’d say we were probably pushing 450 to 500 people.”
Roten said he was grateful for the Ashe County Veterans, ACHS JROTC and Jazz Ensemble, Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, Ashe County Medics and all who attended.
For a photo gallery of the event, go online to www.ashepostandtimes.com.
BOONE — A man currently listed on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry is being charged with first-degree sex offense with a child.
Steven Lynn Greer, 51, of 309 Ski Crest Park, Blowing Rock, was arrested on May 13 by the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office. According to court documents, Greer was issued a $750,000 secured bond and a June 6 court date.
Greer allegedly engaged in a sex offense with a minor under the age of 13 years old from January 2009 through December 2011, according to the warrant for arrest.
The N.C. Sex Offender Registry — maintained by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation — classifies Greer as a “recidivist” and he is listed as having a lifetime registration period.
According to the registry, Greer was convicted of indecent liberties with a minor and attempted rape or attempted sex offense in Ashe County in March 1994 at the age of 23. The incident reportedly took place in July 1991. His prison sentence started the day of his conviction and he was released in June 1999, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.
He was given a second conviction in June 2013 at the age of 40 for a sex offense by a substitute parent or custodian and indecent liberties with a minor in Yadkin County. The incident reportedly took place in 2008 and 2009, according to the registry. NCDPS states he served time in prison for this conviction from June 2013 until November 2015.
He was then scheduled to be on parole from November 2015 to November 2020.
JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Lansing man after a 40-minute search in relation to a stabbing Wednesday, May 22.
Cory D. Hollifield, 25, of Lansing, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and resisting a public officer. Hollifield is currently being held at the Ashe County Detention Center under a $2,500 secured bond and a $25,000 secured bond, according to the ACSO.
Deputies responded to a 911 call shortly before 4 p.m. in the Silas Creek area. According to a warrant for his arrest, Hollifield allegedly attacked the victim with knife before fleeing. Lt. Joe Francis called for an automated emergency phone message to be sent out to residents so they would be aware of the situation. After less than an hour, Hollifield was found and arrested by Francis after allegedly refusing to obey commands, according to the ACSO and a warrant for Hollifield’s arrest.
The Ashe Post & Times will provide updates for this story as they are made available.