A pressing issue

Olivia Belanger / Sentinel Staff

Nelson Hayden, director of The Doorway at Cheshire Medical Center, speaks to the crowd during the second community meeting for the Monadnock Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Planning Project at the Peterborough Town Library.

The Monadnock Rural Community Opioid Response Program Planning Project will hold its third community meeting in Keene Friday afternoon.

The one-year initiative, backed by federal funding, is aiming to examine gaps in the local response to the opioid crisis and develop comprehensive plans to address those shortcomings.

The project is led by a consortium of area entities, including the county government, health care providers, treatment and recovery resources, social services agencies and others.

The ultimate goal, in a county that saw a near doubling of fatal overdoses last year despite a dip statewide, is to reduce addiction rates and overdose deaths.

Cheshire County is one of 120 recipients of the federal Rural Opioid Response Grant, with a $200,000 budget for a project that also includes Antrim, Bennington, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough and five other towns in western Hillsborough County.

The past two meetings — held in Keene and Peterborough — have focused on brainstorming and agenda setting.

Staff of Southwest Region Planning Commission plan to present a recently completed needs assessment during Friday’s meeting, according to a news release.

The meeting, open to the public, will be held 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on the second floor of the old courthouse at 12 Court St.

Findings from these meetings will be included in the program’s written report, due in May 2020.

To RSVP to Friday’s meeting or for more information on the program, people can contact Project Manager Beth Shrader at cheshirehrsaprojectmanager@gmail.com.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.