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Drug prevention on menu of Shelter Island grants committee 

Driven by the deaths of four area people who succumbed to fentanyl-laced cocaine last August — including Islander Swainson Brown — the Capital Planning/Grants Committee Tuesday morning heard suggestions to combat overdoses.

Community-wide programs that are evidenced based could be developed to deal with early interventions, Town Social Worker Lucille Buergers told the committee, and many programs could be developed with grant funding. At the heart of such efforts is strengthening families as a resource in preventing addictions, Ms. Buergers said, outlining several possible programs:

• Partner with Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital’s team of psychiatric residents for ways to provide resources to tackle alcohol and drug issues

• Working with Shelter Island School District to reach students before they become involved with drugs and/or alcohol.

• Sponsoring more events such as the Shelter Island Historical Society’s 60s Dance Party that can bring families together in positive activities that strengthen connections between students and parents.

• Possibly providing clean needles to drug users if that’s something Police Chief Jim Read would support.

• Providing test strips at key venues where people gather so those who are exposed to drugs can test for lethal substances such as fentanyl, again, if Chief Read would support that move.

Councilman Jim Colligan, who is chairman of the Capital Planning/Grants Committee, suggested creating a subcommittee as an initial step. Such a committee could include Ms. Buergers, Chief Read, School Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., grants writer Jennifer Mesiano Higham and perhaps parents to discuss possibilities.

Mr. Colligan  said given the short time before school starts next month, it would make sense to look at something small that could be built on for the following year.