Opioid graphic

A county-led effort to improve the region’s response to the opioid crisis is looking for public input at a meeting in Keene Thursday afternoon.

The Monadnock Rural Community Opioid Response Program Planning Project got underway recently with a federal grant. The one-year initiative aims to examine gaps in the local response to the opioid crisis and develop comprehensive plans to address those shortcomings, with the ultimate goal of reducing addiction rates and overdose deaths.

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.

Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. on the second floor of the county building at 12 Court St. in Keene.

Organizers are hoping for feedback from people who have experienced substance use firsthand, or seen its effects.

“Everyone is invited especially those whose life, career, family, or friends have been impacted by opioid misuse, overdose or substance use disorder,” project manager Beth Shrader said in a news release.

After a brief overview of the project, attendees will break into small groups to discuss the risk factors for substance use in the region, as well as the existing community resources for addressing it, the news release said.

People will have opportunities to share their experiences and sign up for further participation.

“There will be future opportunities to participate in conversations and meetings, in focus groups and working hands-on with subcommittees,” according to the news release, which calls the meeting a “first step.”

The planning effort covers Cheshire County, as well as Antrim, Bennington, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough and five other towns in western Hillsborough County.

The $200,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration was one of 120 such awards given out across the country this year. Cheshire County applied for and received the grant.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409,

or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter