By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force has been working hard to establish a presence since the county received opioid settlement funds in early 2021.
In late 2021, there was a nationwide settlement regarding the opioid crisis and each state received money, which is doled out to each county. Kittson County was originally set to receive $10,000 each year over 18 years. As of the end of 2022, the task force had received $35,294.33. Of that, the group placed $20,000 into a long-term CD.
With opioid payments received in 2023, the total funding received is up to $44,695.68. Expenses so far have been just over $2,000 leaving the available funds at $22,674.55.
Jeanna Kujava, facilitator of the task force, asked the commission during its Thursday, Dec. 28 meeting to approve putting some of the task force’s funds into a short-term CD.
“We’re looking at $10,450 for the next year as a budget,” Kujava said. “While you consider that action (for the CD), it kind of rolls into one of the other requirements for this group. We have an annual budget for the substance abuse prevention task force. While this isn’t levy dollars, it is funding that needs to be accounted for.”
The county is the fiscal host for the task force’s funding, so the commission had to approve both the budget for 2024 and the request to place $10,000 in a short-term CD.
The task force has been busy getting its mission out to the public.
The group held a drug take-back event in Lancaster, had a booth at the Kittson County Fair and held the group’s public annual meeting in conjunction with a health and wellness fair. Commissioners Loren Younggren and Theresia Gillie are on the task force.
“As time goes by, I think there will be more things the task force can engage in,” Gillie said. “It’s just when you’re starting from scratch, it’s a challenge.”
Kujava said in the group’s December meeting they discussed possible outreach programs including a vape education/curriculum to educate youth and hosting a naloxone training for fire departments and first responders.
“We had a pretty good discussion going forward on how to use the money, like for the brochure they’re working on, but it takes time,” Younggren said. “I feel like we’re starting to make progress.”
“It really is a countywide initiative, an effort to pull everybody from across the county takes time too,” Kujava said.
Anyone interested in substance abuse prevention can participate in this task force. If you are interested, you can contact Kujava at 218-843-3662 or email her at jeanna.kujava@ kmhc.net.
The task force meets the third Wednesday each month, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Kittson County Courthouse in Hallock. Kujava also provides a virtual meeting option for those who can’t attend in person. To receive the virtual meeting link, you can email Kujava, who will also send an agenda for the meeting.
By Anna Jauhola