Opioid presentation takes center stage at commission meeting

Fire station financing and all other business passes unanimously

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Purdue Pharma, the maker of the prescription opioid painkiller OxyContin. Purdue said Monday, March 4, 2019, that it has asked a Massachusetts court to throw out a lawsuit filed by the state's attorney general that accuses the company, its owners and top executives of deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioids. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

ALBEMARLE At Monday evening’s meeting of the Stanly County Commission, Commissioner Mike Barbee invited a local preacher to address those assembled on the topic of the opioid crisis. Reverend Cook of the Full Gospel Mission Church, located on Highway 73 in Albemarle, spent some time discussing his being led to “step up” on the issue, then introduced Jaime Torres, a national figure in prison and drug ministry, that has agreed to partner with him to confront opioids in Stanly County.

“I’ve been pastoring a church for 44 years here in Stanly County and been preaching about 50 years,” Reverend Cook began. “Stanly County is my home. I was born and raised in Stanly County. And when this news came on the TV that our county was the No. 1 in opioid addiction in the state, we sat and talked about it, then we talked about it in our church. We talked about it with several of the leaders of our community. But there’s no more need to talk about it. It’s time that somebody step up. So, the Lord laid it on my heart to do that.”

Reverend Cook then introduced Torres, who spoke for the next 15 minutes about his own life, including his time in prison and being a drug courier for his gang-member father in Puerto Rico as a child.

“I was amazed sitting here and thinking, ‘What in the world is a Puerto Rican from the Bronx doing in a place called Albemarle, North Carolina?’” Torres said. “It’s amazing when you surrender your life to God and allow Him to lead you. And I believe with all my heart that He has led me here to this county.”

Cook and Torres are partnering to create a ministry tackling the opioid crisis in Stanly County and will be holding a multi-day event out of Cook’s church to kick off their initiative. They asked that those in the county commission and the public consider participating in and supporting their efforts.

After all business had concluded, Commissioner Lane Furr said during board comments, “I want to say that I appreciate Reverend Cook coming in, and Jaime Torres and his testimony. I really appreciate what they do.”

Commissioner Almond then spoke and said, “I’d like to echo Mr. Furr’s comments on Jaime Torres and Reverend Cook.”

In addition to the presentation on opioids, which took the bulk of the meeting, commissioners voted 7-0 to approve tax exempt financing for the East Side Fire Department to build a new station.

The commission also voted 7-0 to approve naming April “Child Abuse Prevention Month,” 7-0 to approve a tax incentive program and 7-0 to approve re-appointing two members to the Nursing Home Advisory Committee.

The next meeting will be held on Monday, April 1, 2019, at 6 p.m.