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Bristol Bay prepares for new opioid task force

  • Author: Molly Dischner, Bristol Bay Times
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published January 22, 2017

Several Bristol Bay organizations are partnering on a new task force to combat the drug problem in the region.

Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, Bristol Bay Housing Authority, Bristol Bay Native Association and Bristol Bay Native Corporation are working together to create the Bristol Bay Drug and Opioid Task Force.

BBNC President Jason Metrokin said the new body is meant to help find solutions to a problem that has been growing across the state, including in Bristol Bay.

The task force is roughly modeled after a similar body in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and the statewide opioid task force. But it will look at the Bristol Bay region specifically, and Metrokin said he expects it to take a holistic approach that incorporates many fields to find workable solutions for the region.

Metrokin said BBNC has heard increased discussion of the problem over the past year, and it emerged as a major theme at the Bristol Bay leadership forum this winter. And, as he traveled in the region this fall, he was approached by residents who shared stories about the issue, which helped focus his attention on the issue.

As the conversation increased, Metrokin said BBNC felt it could not sit back while the problem was growing.

"We're part of the fabric of this region," he said.

The partners are recruiting a wide-range of people to participate, including health care, law enforcement, and others who are involved in the region and the problem.

The groups are working together, in part, because none of them can solve the problem alone, he said.

"Bristol Bay partners can solicit those types of solutions and help match them up with funding or programs or what is needed to move forward," he said.

From BBNC's perspective, drug problems can limit the work force, making it more difficult to find employees, which can make it difficult for businesses to thrive. But that also means the organization wants to help support a strong workforce, Metrokin said. Other partners have their own needs from the effort.

"I think each of us bring something unique to the table," he said.

This story first appeared in The Bristol Bay Times/Dutch Harbor Fisherman and is republished here with permission.