Madison County Courthouse NDN

MADISON — The Madison County Board of Commissioners is taking a wait-and-see approach to a national opioid lawsuit settlement.

Troy Uhlir, county board chairman, said Tuesday during the county board meeting that the county received a letter from Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson stating that two settlements had been reached regarding the manufacturing and distribution of prescription opioids.

The letter identified three responses and stated that the county has until Dec. 31 to notify the state of which response it wants to take. The amount of the settlement and the county’s share are unknown.

The lawsuit was from early 2018 when a couple of law firms approached the county seeking to represent it. No action was taken by the county at that time.

The first two responses are to sign both agreements, making the county eligible to receive its direct share; or to sign both agreements but elect to contribute the county’s share to a Nebraska Opioid Recovery Fund for use within the county’s behavioral health region.

The final option is to not sign onto the agreements and forgo both the county’s direct share and distributions from the Nebraska Opioid Recovery Fund.

Uhlir said he believes the county should do one of the first two options.

“Opioids are an issue and continue to be an issue in our treatment facilities in the county,” Uhlir said.

Both Uhlir and commissioner Eric Stinson said they would like to have more information, including what happens if treatment facilities come to the county, how is the county supposed to distribute those funds?

Uhlir said mental health facilities would probably be the top priority in getting funds. Stinson said it might be better for the county to make the decision locally than have the state determine it.

Uhlir said in visiting with Madison County Sheriff Todd Volk and Madison County Attorney Joe Smith, the county needs a place where it can treat addicted inmates who are coming off opioids rather than simply a jail cell.

It’s difficult for the county to try to treat the inmates when they are coming down and it isn’t conducive to what they need, Stinson said.

At the time Madison County was asked to join the lawsuit in 2018, one of the firms shared its estimate that Madison County’s cost in 2016 alone for the opioid epidemic was about $4 million.

The expenses included the county’s costs in dealing with drug overdoses, abandoned children, treatment for addictions, babies who are born addicted, thefts and crime by those addicted, and prosecution, law enforcement and incarceration costs.

Opioids are painkillers, including OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin and many others, along with some street variations. Opioids are effective in reducing pain, but they also can be highly addictive.

Uhlir said the settlement is open to cities, counties and other political subdivisions.


The Madison County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday.

Members present: Chairman Troy Uhlir and Eric Stinson. Member absent: Ron Schmidt.

Others in attendance: Anne Pruss, county clerk; Dick Johnson, road superintendent; nobody from the public and three reporters.

Meeting lasted: 20 minutes.

ACTION ITEMS

— Recited the Pledge of Allegiance and had a moment of silence. Noted the open meetings law is posted and followed.

— Acknowledged receipt of the official bond and oath for Shari Agué as clerk/treasurer of City of Newman Grove.

— Approved James Bossard’s lot split, which is located east of the intersection of 538th Avenue and 846th Road, which is rural Tilden.

— Authorized the board chairman to execute an agreement to change Madison County website domain to madisoncountyne.gov.

— Approved updates to Local Emergency Operation Plan (LEOP) manual.

— Authorized canceling a county check payable to Adam Anderson.

— Authorized canceling a county check payable to Credit Management Services Inc.

— Reviewed written reports and processed claims.

— By JERRY GUENTHER