Houghton County Could See Opioid Settlement Money | News, Sports, Jobs

HOUGHTON — Houghton County could get between $40,000 and $50,000 a year under a nationwide opioid settlement.

Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – agreed to a $26 billion settlement in August.

The money will flow to counties over an 18-year period, Vice President Tom Tikkanen said at Tuesday’s meeting. Most of the money will go to opioid treatment and prevention.

The settlement is contingent on 100% agreement from affected counties, Tikkanen said.

The county will also hold a meeting to determine how it will spend the money it receives from the US bailout (ARP) funding.

County department heads will meet with the council in a committee of the whole meeting at 1 p.m. on March 8. Commissioner Glenn Anderson suggested a second meeting with public participation. No date has been set for this meeting.

The board also rejected a Freedom of Information Act appeal from Joshua Vissers of the Copper Beacon regarding the December and January check registers and a building inspector’s report.

Administrator Elizabeth Bjorn said the check register is made available to the public on a notice board on the second floor of the courthouse; actual checks are available to see and do “a summary or memorandum.” Bjorn said she did not want to make the PDFs available, as requested, due to the possibility of leaking personal information.

In a response on its website, Vissers pointed out that the county did not cite any particular precedent in its official response, such as Section 13 of the state’s FOIA law, which lists statutory exemptions from disclosure. He also pointed to a part of the FOIA law that requires the government entity to segregate any non-exempt information through methods such as redactions, and allows the government to charge for the cost and time of the work. The county had not informed him of such a cost, Vissers said.

The county will also apply for a materials management grant from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) with assistance from the Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region. The grant would be $10,000 for an individual county and $12,000 if multiple counties collaborate.

The grant would help WUPPDR help Houghton and other counties improve recycling opportunities. WUPPDR’s Lisa McKenzie said she was addressing all six counties in her area.

“Recycling requires volume to make it profitable”, she said, adding that materials management had other components. “It’s solid waste, it’s composting, it’s a lot of different aspects.”

The board also:

• Heard from Clerk Jennifer Kelly that there would be a new office policy to keep the Clerk’s office open during normal business hours with at least one person in the office.

• received the 2021 report from the County Land Bank Authority. The management had 27 plots in its inventory at the end of 2021. Of the 24 it had at the start of the year, two were sold. She bought five parcels under tax seizure, one of which was sold. He also purchased another property from the state’s Land Bank Authority for $1.

• approved up to $3,200 for UP Engineers & Architects to perform HVAC upgrades to the ground floor of the courthouse. The lack of air circulation has reduced the life of county equipment, including servers, Administrator Elizabeth Bjorn said.

• approved the 2022 deal with Michigan State University Extension for $40,000.

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