Feeling left out of conversation
We're glad to see that Gov. Phil Scott has announced the 21 members of his Opioid Coordination Council, putting one of the first executive orders of his administration into action.
But we're befuddled that a 21-member council with representation across the Green Mountain State somehow managed to completely miss Bennington County. Out of 21 members, none are from our part of the state.
If that meant there wasn't an opioid abuse and addiction problem in Bennington County, we'd be relieved that we've been excused. But we know that's not true.
In the past few weeks, police have made two arrests — one in Manchester, the other in Arlington — alleging that the accused were planning to sell significant quantities of heroin.
To be clear, those two individuals have been charged, not convicted, and therefore must be granted the presumption of innocence guaranteed by our criminal justice system until and unless a jury decides otherwise.
But the arrests do strongly suggest that opioids, particularly heroin, remain a problem throughout all of Bennington County. If police say there are people allegedly plotting to sell that poison, that would also indicate there's a demand for it.
So we welcome the appointments of Agency of Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille, Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson, and former Chittenden County State Sen. Jim Leddy as co-chairs. We're pleased that Jolinda LaClair, the state's new director of drug prevention policy, will oversee the council's work. And we are glad to see such a broad spectrum of expertise on the board, including first responders, police, prosecutors, elected officials, and healthcare and addiction treatment professionals. It really is a well-rounded group.
It's just not geographically well-rounded. And that oversight needs to be addressed.
So we also look forward to Gov. Scott announcing the appointment of one or more individuals from Bennington County to join the OCC and help it carry out its important work.
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