Fighting the opioid crisis: City could receive $500,000 from National Opioid Settlement

Published 11:29 am Saturday, December 18, 2021

The city of Sulphur could receive upwards of $500,000 over the next two decades from monies from the National Opioid Settlement to help combat the opioid crisis.

A Lafayette attorney laid the groundwork for what Sulphur can expect at the monthly council meeting Monday.

Lafayette attorney Madeleine Brumley spoke regarding the national opioid lawsuit. Her firm, Laborde Rose Law Firm, along with many others, was a principal litigant in the suit.

“In 2017, a bunch of local government agencies sued the prescription manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain medication for their role in the opioid crisis, Brumley explained. “At this time there is a $22.8 billion national settlement on the table from the three big distributors and from one manufacturer.

“The state of Louisiana’s share in that is about $325 to $365 million over the next 20 years.”

Brumley said in order for Louisiana to get maximum settlement value, 100 percent participation must be secured from every party that litigated, every parish whether or not they went to trial or not and every city with a population of greater than 10,000 people, whether or not they went to trial or not.

“That’s why I’m here tonight. The Attorney General is proposing to turn over 100 percent of the available funds to local governments,” she said.

Sulphur would receive about $500,000 spread out over the next 18 years in order to abate the opioid crisis. The settlement spells out many ways in which the money can be used to accomplish the goal. The money would not come to the general fund, but held in a trust for approved uses.

Money would not be available until 2023, Brumley said. If 100 percent of municipalities and other government agencies do not approve the resolution to enter into the letter of memorandum, less money will be allocated.

Resident frustrated with crime uptick

Sulphur businessman Buckie LeBoeuf addressed the council

about the eroding condition of the north side of Sulphur, adding that solving the problem could be tied to using the opioid litigation dollars.

“I grew up in this community, as a lot of you have,” he said. “It’s getting horrible. A church has been broken into three times. We need to do something with these people.”

LeBoeuf said he was worried about the safety of young children in the neighborhood and knew of one person cursing a church member because food had not been replaced in the outside food pantry box after it was emptied.

Mayor Mike Danahay responded that “we will work with anyone that wants to try to improve our city.”

The two men have discussed the issue in the past.

“He is right in the fact that we have seen an uptick in activity in this area,” Danahay said. “It was a problem before the storm and it has been exasperated by the storm. We do have a larger homeless community here.

“We do have area churches and other organizations in this area that are serving those folks, not only from a food standpoint but also shelter when shelters are needed such as in cold weather. We will continue to work with those agencies as well as the public here to try to better the community, always.”

A representative from the Sulphur Police Department said it is still looking for police candidates. Six have been hired recently and are currently in training.

Imagine what Sulphur could be

Community member Cindy Robertson reminded everyone to participate in the Just Imagine Southwest Louisiana process. Following the storms, a donation to the Community Foundation of SWLA offered the opportunity to combine recovery efforts with a more comprehensive vision, a 50-year resilience plan for Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

Input is currently in the first step, information gathering.

“Go to justimagineswla.org and make sure that you put your comments about what you love about our area, what the problems were before 2022 and ideas about what you would like to see changed,” Robertson said. “It’s a great way for the community to be involved.”

Council chair Joy Abshire wished all a Merry Christmas and concluded with this:

“Usually, we wait for Jan. 1 to start anew, but actually we could start new any and every day of our lives. So, I hope that together collectively, we move our city forward and look to brighter things ahead.”

Damaged properties

Residents still working on hurricane damaged-properties at nine addresses were approved to stay a little longer. Further extensions will not be forthcoming if progress isn’t made.

Land transfer

Four parcels of land will be transferred from Calcasieu Parish to the city of Sulphur at 2329 Timberlane Drive, 2325 Timberlane Drive, 1030 Invader St., and 2392 Tammy Drive.