Saturday, March 9, 2019

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Opioid crisis highlights Odell’s State of the County

Odell: "... working together can make a difference.”

MAHOPAC – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell stressed the Year of the Health Provider during her State of the County Address last Thursday evening delivered before a SRO audience in Mahopac.

While highlighting nurses, physicians, EMT’s, first responders, physical therapists and mental health providers for their dedication in keeping Putnam’s population safe and healthy, Odell expressed great concern regarding the opioid crisis that has America in its grip.

“It’s become so critical that librarians are being trained to administer Narcan,” she said.

For the next half hour, the Republican executive discussed Putnam’s One Army on the War of Addiction resulting from 71 fatal drug overdoses countywide during the past four years.

Fourteen people were killed by drug overdoses in 2015; 15 in 2016, another 24 in 2017 and 18 last year. Odell compared these frightening numbers to fatal motor vehicle crashes: Nine in 2015, two in 2016, four in 2017 and six last year.

“Putnam is not unique,” said Odell.  “The odds of dying from an accidental overdose in the U.S. now surpass those dying in a car crash. Hoping won’t help someone struggling with addiction but working together can make a difference.”

Odell commended several individuals and organizations for working to help alleviate the opioid scourge.

She encouraged all residents of the county to safely dispose of unwanted drugs and medications found around the home by bringing them to Putnam’s next Medication Take Back Day planned for April 27 at Putnam Hospital Center.

The executive segued her message by targeting Albany lawmakers who have expressed their support for the legalization of adult recreational marijuana which she charged was “our latest enemy.”

Citing statistics from Colorado where marijuana is legal to purchase, Odell noted that fatal vehicle crashes increased by 40 percent within a two-year period as a result of motorists driving stoned in the Centennial State.

Odell called those who profess the legalization of marijuana as being “naïve. We will pay dearly should this legislation be approved because New York State will create a new addiction.”

State Senator Peter Harckham and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne were among those in attendance.

When queried following the address, Harckham said Odell was “right on regarding the opioid crisis. Many things are coming out of the state budget which we will hopefully codify within the next couple of weeks.”

Harckham admitted he was “unsure” on his position regarding marijuana legalization: “I want to hear from my constituents. Many challenges and moving parts exist. We are talking about a complex public policy.”

Byrne was adamant that recreational marijuana legislation should not occur. “I fully support medicinal marijuana but oppose the legalization of the drug that must remain as a controlled substance,” he said

Putnam Legislator Nancy Montgomery, the sole Democrat on the nine-member governing body, also opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana. She, however, called Odell’s address somewhat bizarre since “the executive highlighted the war on drugs yet in her next breath was overjoyed with updating the public regarding the Alexandrion Distillery project planned for the former Guideposts building in Carmel. It’s ironic that we are fighting drugs yet praise is issued for a major distillery.”

Odell also addressed issues related to fiscal responsibility and social responsibility during her hour long address.

“The fiscal state of our county is strong according to independent financial experts,” she said.

Putnam continues to receive an Aa2 rating from Moody’s Investors.

Odell said “Moody’s doesn’t just hand out that superior rating. We work hard every day by delivering a fiscally conservative budget by managing debt and maintaining healthy reserves.”

The executive praised her administration for taking over the Putnam County Golf Course which she described as a “premier golf and event destination providing a solid financial investment.”

Likewise, she discussed the Tilly Foster Farm and Educational Institute which offers educational opportunities through Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES in addition to Tilly’s Table, a variety of farm animals and the harvesting of crops.

Legislature Chairman Joseph Castellano praised Odell for “doing a fantastic job. The legislature works very well with the executive. Great things are being accomplished.”

Senator Harckham agreed. “She laid out her accomplishments and priorities and is right on.”

Assemblyman Byrne described the State of the County as being “terrific. Putnam should be a model for all New Yorkers.”

Legislator Montgomery also credited Odell with “painting a clear picture of where the county is going.”

 


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