Representatives from Ludlow CARES meet with the Board of Selectmen at their May 7 meeting to discuss program reimbursement from the town’s Opioid Settlement Funds.
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LUDLOW — At its May 7 meeting, the Board of Selectmen met with representatives from the Ludlow CARES Coalition who are pursuing program and operating expense reimbursement from the town’s opioid settlement funds.

CARES is hoping for the replenishment of nearly $14,000 for costs associated with programs and community events during 2023 and the first months of 2024.

Coalition members met with the board back in October of 2023 regarding the then recently approved funds and how that money would potentially be distributed. At that time, acknowledging the approximately $150,000 received by the town as part of a settlement with a group opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers, Ludlow CARES President Laura Rooney said she thought the organization should receive $30,000 of the annual funds citing her organization’s focus on opioid prevention.

Speaking before board Chair Derek DeBarge and other board members on May 7, Rooney and officers Diana Roy and Ben Bovee outlined the organization’s activities during that time period and the expenses incurred.

“We had presented back in October the request for opioid relief funds and I know there’s been a lot of discussion, probably clarification and things like that about how that money can spend or what an organization can do with those funds” Rooney said.

Among the programs and events, the group hopes to be compensated for are CARES’ Mental Health First Aid Initiative during fiscal year 2023 and the first quarter of 2024. The goal of the program is to raise awareness on the importance of mental health awareness and early intervention for youth and adults. Goals are pursued though webinar and public training sessions, both in the public schools and with town employees.

Red Ribbon Week and Walk to Remember programs provide education about drug use prevention and to loss related to substance use and opioid use disorders.

Acknowledging what he understood to be the Board of Selectmen’s role in the reimbursement or allocation process for the opioid funds, DeBarge conferred with the other members to confirm the proper actions and requirements, noting that Rooney had submitted documentation of the events and qualifying expenditures.

“When those monies are expended, you have to report that to our office and then our office fills out the paperwork and that cycle continues,” he said, noting that funding of $30,000 had been previously voted on and approved.

Without apparent roadblocks to the reimbursement allocations, the groups discussed a potential streamlining of the process in the future to address similar financial transactions when qualifying documentation is provided.