Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

a voluntary council of local governments
serving the missouri meramec area.

MRPC board hears about MRPC opioid initiatives 

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge or Caitlin Jones

Walden honored for 11 years of service to MRPC board

ST. JAMES— Bonnie Prigge, executive director of Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC), discussed the progress of MRPC’s rural opioid initiatives at the Aug. 11 MRPC board meeting. In 2019, the Meramec Region suffered 78 overdoses deaths. Of those 78 deaths, 59 were due to opioids. Missouri in the same time frame suffered 1,094 opioid overdoses. 

MRPC’s rural opioid initiatives began as a way to try and solve a growing workforce issue by trying to tap into the workforce potential of persons in recovery by getting them back into the workforce. In Missouri, opioid use disorder has resulted in 33,061 jobs lost in 2019 alone. These were in the fields of manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, mining and utilities.  Workforce shortages can be attributed to baby-boomers retiring, declining birth rates nationally and parents who stepped out of the workforce to care for their grandchildren due to the parents being on opioids. 

MRPC’s rural opioid initiatives are funded through four grants from the Amerisource Bergen Foundation, Health Services and Resources Administration and the Department of Justice-Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency. The scope of the work across the grants includes consortium meetings, a presence in the jails/judicial system, a presence in schools, assistance to employers, awareness activities, the purchase of Narcan for health departments and providing drug-take back boxes in the region.

MRPC has subcontracted with Prevention Consultants of Missouri and Dr. Sean Siebert, Invent Yourself, LLC., to deliver programming in schools and jails. Prigge had made a similar PowerPoint presentation at the National Association of Developmental Organizations (NADO) Economic Development Administration (EDA) Four-State Conference in Kansas City in June.

For more information on MRPC’s rural opioid initiatives, please visit www.meramecregion.org/mrpc-rural-opioid-initiative/

Additionally, Ray Walden, who served as the representative for the city of Salem, was honored for 11 years of service to the MRPC board, and affiliated committees including the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Planning Committee, where he served as chairman. He also represented MRPC on the Meramec Regional Community Foundation. 

In other business, the MRPC board:

  • Heard an update on MRPC’s Annual Dinner planning and encouraged board members to reach out to community businesses for help with silent auction items;
  • Reviewed the ranking of high priority unfunded needs and Regional Bridge Program BRO projects presented by the TAC. (The rankings were approved at the Sept. 8 meeting.); 
  • Approved the financials for the period ending June 30, 2022; 
  • Approved minor changes to the board’s hour allocation policy to include the signing of a technical assistance contract as part of the dues/membership process. Each county receives 18 hours of free services each year and cities receive 15 hours as a part of membership; 
  • Approved the adoption of the MRPC Money Purchase Pension plan with new dates, which must be done every five years; and 
  • Heard that MRPC has office chairs for sale if anyone is interested in purchasing chairs in good condition.

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. Steve Vogt, representing the city of Belle, serves as chairman of the board. A professional staff of 36 offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at www.meramecregion.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/meramecregion/.


Cutline: MRPC Chairman Steve Vogt (right) and MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge (left) present Ray Walden with a plaque commemorating his 11 years of service to the MRPC Board of Directors.