Community Forum raises awareness

Some of the biggest issues in Monroe County were addressed at a public forum at MCCC.

A panel of three speakers gave presentations on public education, health care, and the opioid crisis on Saturday, Sept. 16.   

Donald Spencer, who served as the superintendent of Monroe County Intermediate School District from 1999 to 2014, and as an educator in the county for 39 years, covered education.

“It’s driven by our culture, of which we are all a part and wherein lies our strengths and also our challenges,” he said.

He focused on the need for proper funding and stressed the need for education to begin early in life.  He touched on the opportunities available in the county.

Ezinne Ndukwe, the senior health policy analyst at the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, spoke about health care.

A focus of her presentation was the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and some of its many parts. She noted the decrease in uninsured individuals in the United States since the ACA went into effect.

She talked about a few aspects of the ACA that work well and a few that don’t.  She spoke about the uncertainty of the future of health care.

William Paul Nichols, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, talked about the opioid crisis in the county. He gave statistics and facts to explain the depth of the issue.

“Interestingly, a thousand people a day are admitted to E.R. departments, E.R. rooms for opioid overdose,” Nichols said.

He talked about where opioids come from and how they became such a problem. He spoke about the many organizations across the county and state that seek to aid in ending the crisis and helping those affected by it.

MCCC, Monroe County Positive Action Network (MCPAN) and Stronger Together, Monroe, sponsored the forum. Linda Lauer and Claire Renwick of the MCPAN Advocacy Committee and Sharon McNeil of Stronger Together served as co-chairs. 

The audience included officials, community members, and organizers.

“I think it was a good turnout considering how many events are happening right now, today, at this time,” organizer Claire Renwick said. “And the questions really showed an appreciation for the topics, and I think the speakers answered them really well, so overall I think it went really well.”

Aleta Jackson, a member MCPAN, was also in attendance.

“I was impressed at the way they spoke. They had a conversation with us,” she said of the speakers. “It’s like they weren’t speaking to us or at us. They were actually having a conversation with us.

MCCC president Kojo Quartey moderated the event.

“I think it was an excellent forum. Our speakers were great,” Quartey said. “It was non-partisan in every way. They expressed their opinions openly and candidly. The organizers did a great job.”