Access id’d as barrier substance use to recovery

A bench was dedicated on the Green in Montrose last week in memory of the late Eleanor Kurosky who was employed in the Susquehanna County Planning Office for over 30 years. In an effort spearheaded by her co-workers James Kane and Kiana Lavery, courthouse employees and elected county officials donated money to purchase the bluestone bench, made by Butch Coleman of Endless Mountain Stone. Seated, from left: Planning Director Bob Templeton and Cheryl Kurosky, daughter of Eleanor. Standing: James Kane and Kiana Lavery

Some county residents struggling with substance use disorders experience difficulty accessing services available to them, explained Barbara Durkin as she presented findings and recommendations coming out of the Susquehanna County Substance Use and Recovery Initiative (SURI).

Durkin, the director of the Lackawanna – Susquehanna Drug and Alcohol Program, offered up information at the Wednesday, Aug. 28 county commissioners’ meeting.

The over one-year initiative was comprised of representatives from drug and alcohol treatment providers, Children & Youth, behavioral health, commissioners, local school districts, agencies and organizations.

Durkin said the group discovered there are a “vast number of services here. The challenge is people do not know who to call.”

She noted that Trehab provides drug and alcohol treatment services and even has established a community resource center in Montrose. The agency is available “after hours,” 24/7 at 570-278-3338. Durkin said people could call “any time of day,” noting there is “ample funding for treatment.”

A primary concern, Durkin said, was how to provide access to services to those who need them the most.

The SURI findings led to a recommendation that they work with the criminal justice system and are providing, on a part-time basis, access to assessments and treatments at the facility.

A community meeting was held in May at Mountain View High School. While not well attended, Durkin said both the Mountain View and Blue Ridge School Districts reported that the School Resource Officers in the districts have been useful.

She said the group is planning small-scale community meetings, starting with Forest City on Sept. 7. Durkin said the short informational sessions could take place at the time of regular municipal meetings.

The SURI will also be partnering with local school districts and hold a logo and poster contest for students grades K to 12. “We want to get the word out that recovery is possible,” Durkin said.

All SURI materials will be branded with the winning logo; and poster contest winners could see their artwork appear on local billboards.

Durkin said the group also hoped to hold a reception in the late fall to recognize the contest winners.

Commissioner MaryAnn Warren said the county is pleased with the participation from the SURI members, especially the school districts. She said the SRO program has been effective. “Their involvement with the schools has had a great impact,” she said.

Warren said Montrose Area School District does not have an SRO. “We hope they are onboard soon,” she said.

In May, the Montrose Area School Board approved a draft Memorandum of Understanding with the District Attorney’s office and final approval is waiting on the entities, and the county commissioners, reaching a mutually satisfactory contract.

The commissioners approved entering into the 2019-20 agreements with the Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention program. The agreements identify approved providers for services.

The commissioners also fielded questions about the status of road repairs in the county.

Hall said a lot of progress has been made, with potholes being filled and “temporary work.”

He said work was slated to begin on Route 11 from the state line to New Milford Borough.

He also pointed out cuts to the PennDOT TIP program’s five year projects. “The state has decided to pull those projects and put (the funds) into the interstate,” Hall said.

The commissioner said there is push-back on the move from the Northern Tier, and that he made Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards’ PennDOT email and phone number on his social media page.

He thanked the number of people who have called the Dunmore PennDOT office and the state office to voice road concerns.

“It’s appalling they are now taking money out of the (TIP) budget and moving it to the interstate.

“Our (PennDOT) crews in this county do an excellent job with the equipment they have to work with,” Hall said.

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