CUSTER COUNTY— Opioid addiction has caused more than 200,000 overdose deaths since the late 1990’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, a lawsuit is about to see its first trial on October 21. From that trial and subsequent decisions from numerous judges, lawyers, and so forth, a settlement is likely which will distribute money to those involved in the lawsuit.
Custer County is part of that lawsuit, but according to Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers, it may only receive approximately 91 cents per person, an amount that Bowers stated “is not going to go very far for what we need it for.”
Why is this number so low? Bowers told the board that when this issue first came about, the Nebraska Attonrey Generals Office wrote a letter discouraging private litigation as it would be handled at the state level, which never happened.
In fact, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is the only Attorney General in the United States that has chosen to stand on the sidelines during this lawsuit, a decision that has frustrated many across Nebraska. Bowers also noted that without the state involved, the amount of money that could possibly be received is drastically lower.
During the Custer County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, October 15, Bowers stated that he was planning on writing a letter to the Nebraska Association of County Officials and the League of Municipalities concerning the low amount of money possibly coming back to the state. The board also voted unanimously for Bowers to write a letter on behalf of the board with their concerns. A unanimous vote was also approved to stay in the lawsuit in hopes of receiving as much as possible to help with treatments, education, recovery, etc.
Bowers noted that opioids are a huge problem if not worse than illegal drugs because of their addictive nature and the increased difficulty to stop using the opioids.
“It’s a big issue. It is worse than some of the illegal drugs because it is harder for these people to get off [opioids],” said Bowers
Two Custer County Sheriff’s Deputies will be receiving new vehicles after bids were read during the meeting. One of the vehicles, a 2020 Chevy Silverado will be purchased outright from Gateway Motors for $35,194 for the new Custer County Sheriff’s Deputy. Chief Deputy Adam Miller’s vehicle will be traded in for a 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 Classic SLT for $19,900 from Sandhills Motors.
Nebraska Recycling Council Program Director, Megan Jackson, had less than perfect news for the Board of Supervisors concerning recycling markets. Jackson told the board that the supply of recycling materials is very high while the demand is low.
The reason for this change is the Asian markets set new standards which does not allow for United States exported recycling materials. While this avenue did not affect Custer County, the local markets used by Recycling Manager Kelly Flynn are now filling up due to costal states not being able to export the materials.
Jackson noted that the issue now is to maintain recycling centers as the innovation of recycled products begins to catch up to the supply of materials. Jackson noted that there is hopefully future investment opportunities for paper mills and plastics that combine around $2.3 billion.
Smokin Hot Steakhouse was also approved for a special designated liquor license for the Aubree’s Angels Fund Raiser on November 9 at the Custer County Fairgrounds.