Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Opioid use in county among highest in state


February 1, 2018

“Opioid prescriptions are so prevalent here that it averages one prescription per resident, per year,” said attorney David Asp, an associate in the law firm of Lockridge Grindal Naunen, while he presented his firm’s participation in litigation involving opioid addiction to the adjourned session of the Carlton County Board of Commissioners on January 22. “Carlton County has one of the highest opiod addiction rates in Minnesota.”

He went on to explain, “Prescriptions for opioids is down, but a demand for the drugs is still high because of abuse of the drugs earlier. Carlton County admissions for treatment of opioid abuse have increased more than six times the last 10 years. According to the data, prescribing rates are still 50 percent higher in Carlton County above the average in the rest of Minnesota.”

He continued, “If Carlton County would join the pool of governments litigating a case against drug companies and drug supply houses, there would be no out of pocket costs up front. The law firms involved will get a 25 percent share when about 225 lawsuits from all over the nation are finally settled. This lawsuit would give the county the chance to recoup costs of opiod abuse in such areas as treatment efforts, incarceration, Health and Human Service (HHS) costs with dislocated families, etc.”

Chairperson Sue Zmyslony suggested forming a committee led by Carlton County Coordinator Dennis Genereau, HHS Director Dave Lee, and Sheriff Kelly Lake to come back with a recommendation on whether to proceed with litigation. The board approved that plan.

Publication bid

Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert reported the Pine Journal office is closed in Cloquet and all business will be conducted out the Duluth office of Forum Communications. He said, “We are required by statute to publish our board proceedings, legal notices and delinquent tax list in a legal local paper. The Moose Lake Star-Gazette is the only local legal paper left in Carlton County. I recommend we award the Moose Lake Star-Gazette as our legal newspaper and accept the bid of $5.85 SAU.” The county board unanimously approved that action.

At the end of this discussion Commissioner Tom Proulx stated, “For the record, and I hope this is published in the paper, I am very unhappy that the Pine Journal is now based in Duluth.”

Prisoner transport

Lake requested and it was approved to pay $700/year for a service, developed by Dakota County, to trace the transport of the incarcerated throughout Minnesota. It is hoped that similar trips made by different law enforcement teams can transport more than one prisoner to a similar destination. The sheriff assured the board that the Data Practices Act would still govern any of these shared services. The sheriff felt it should be tried and reassessed in one year.

New easement agreement

Lands of the Fond du Lac Band provide a right-of-way for an approach to the Cloquet Airport through an easement granted in 1990, but which has expired. The county engineer was given authority to negotiate a new easement agreement and report back to the county board for approval.


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