On the Same Page Literary Festival logo

WEST JEFFERSON — A panel discussion on the impact of opioid misuse in Ashe County will be held Thursday, Aug. 29, starting at 1 p.m. in Ashe County Public Library’s community room.

As the second installment of the 12th annual On the Same Page Literary Festival, the panel discussion will bring concerns about opioid misuse home to Ashe County to help better understand what public and private agencies are doing to help, according to Adult Services Librarian Laura McPherson.

Panelists for the discussion represent six public and private agencies in the county. Panelists include Dakota Todd, panel moderator and project manager of grants at Ashe Memorial Hospital; Candace Barker, Ashe Medics; Donna Hill, community health services director, AppHealthCare; John Simmins, recovery peer support specialist, AppHealthCare; Chief Deputy Danny Houck, Ashe County Sheriff’s Office; Ashley Sheets, children’s protective services supervisor, Department of Social Services; and Laura Lawson, licensed clinical social worker and counselor.

Each panelist will speak for five to seven minutes about how their work in Ashe County is influenced by opioid misuse, followed by a question-and-answer session, McPherson said.

“We hope people will have a better understanding of what opioid misuse looks like in our county,” McPherson said.

The event is free and open to the public, and McPherson said that everyone is invited to attend.

The panel discussion follows the festival’s kickoff event, which took place on Thursday, Aug. 8, with a personal account from a recovering addict and a reading of the festival’s featured book, ‘Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America’ by Beth Macy.

The Festival Read Wrap-Up event, “Banishing the Stigma,” will take place at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, with discussion focusing on the book and helping find practical and compassionate ways to approach opioid misuse, according to a press release from the festival committee.

For the full schedule of festival events and more information about the other authors taking part in the weeklong celebration of reading, go to ashecountyarts.org or arlibrary.org/ashe, or call the Ashe Arts Center at (336) 846-2787.

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