ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — WLOS is set to host a Your Voice, Your Future Round Table discussion "Opioids: A National Crisis" on Wednesday, Jan. 16. The discussion will air from 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. live on WMYA MY40 that evening and will stream live on our website and Facebook page.
The panelists are NC Attorney General Josh Stein, Sen. Jim Davis (R-District 50), Melinda Ramage, FNP-BC, CARN-AP with MAHEC, and Chief Bill Hollingsed with Waynesville Police Department.
The panel will look at the current state of the opioid epidemic in North Carolina and the nation, impacts on families, local communities and law enforcement, opioid abuse treatment options, and what lawmakers and law enforcement officers are doing moving forward to lower the number of opioid-related overdoses and deaths.
The discussion will be hosted by Eric Bolling. In September 2017, Eric and Adrienne, his wife of 21 years, lost their son to an accidental opioid overdose while he was a student at the University of Colorado. Since then, Eric has been on the front lines, using his influence to bring further awareness to the nation’s opioid crisis.
We asked each panelist to tell us a little about themselves so viewers could learn more about them.
Josh Stein was sworn in as North Carolina’s 50th Attorney General in 2017. As Attorney General, he is focused on protecting North Carolina families from crime and consumer fraud.
Stein has made combating the opioid epidemic a top priority. His office drafted the STOP Act to reduce the number of people who become addicted to opioids through smarter prescribing practices, the HOPE Act, which gives law enforcement additional tools to stop the flow of prescription pain pills into the drug trade, and the Synthetic Opioid Control Act to crack down on the trafficking of illicit fentanyl. All three laws were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Stein is leading the effort to identify, track, and test untested sexual assault kits. Testing these kits will help law enforcement identify and prosecute criminals, prevent future crimes, and bring closure to victims.
As Attorney General, Stein has also worked to protect taxpayers, seniors, students, and military families from fraud. His Department of Justice won awards or settlements of more than $80 million from scam artists. He is working to improve data security and is leading a national effort combat robocalls. Additionally, his office has recovered nearly $50 million from tax cheats and health care providers defrauding Medicaid over the past two years.
Stein is also focused on protecting our state’s natural resources. He opposes offshore oil drilling along North Carolina’s coast and fights to ensure that polluters are held accountable to clean up the messes they create.
Stein previously served as a state Senator and as Senior Deputy Attorney General in the North Carolina Department of Justice. In those roles, he successfully led efforts to put more violent criminals behind bars by expanding the state’s DNA database, wrote the School Safety Act and the Identity Theft Protection Act, worked to protect kids from online sexual predators, and helped run payday lenders charging loan shark interest rates out of the state.
Stein grew up in Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and earned law and public policy degrees from Harvard University. He and his wife Anna have three children – who all attend or attended North Carolina public schools, like Anna and he did.
Sen. Jim Davis was selected to be a National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Opioid Policy Fellow for 2019. He has also worked extensively with AG Stein to pass legislation to curb North Carolina's opioid epidemic. Sen. Davis sponsored the STOP Act in 2017 and the HOPE Act in 2018. He was also the senate chair for the 2017 Task Force on Sentencing Reforms for Opioid Drug Convictions.
Melinda Ramage is the Medical Director and Co-Founder of Project CARA (Care that Advocates Respect, Resilience, and Recovery for All). Project CARA provides comprehensive substance use treatment within a high-risk obstetrical care program at the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC). This program works with the direct support of a team of community partners that include comprehensive mental health, outreach programs, and hospital care services.
Project CARA has supported more than 600 patients with substance use disorders across 16 WNC counties since its founding in 2014. Program faculty provide direct education and training in perinatal substance use disorders to medical students; obstetrical, family medicine, and psychiatry residents; pharmacy students; nurse practitioner students; and other health sciences learners.
In addition to co-founding Project CARA, Ramage has authored and co-authored research on perinatal substance use treatment. She is a public speaker and clinical educator on perinatal substance use treatment, opioid use disorders, as well as prevention and awareness efforts here in Western North Carolina and across the state. A graduate of Purdue University, she started her nursing career as a psychiatric nurse in the U.S. Navy and went on to earn her master’s degree in nursing in Western Carolina University’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program. Passionate about women’s health, she continues to work in high-risk obstetrics and is a certified diabetes educator in addition to her certification in addiction.
Ramage serves on MAHEC’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force, the Western North Carolina Substance Use Alliance, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s Perinatal System of Care Task Force, and on the board of the Western North Carolina Aids Project.
Bill has been the Waynesville Chief of Police since February 1999. Before serving as Chief in Waynesville, he was the Chief of Police for the Western Carolina University Police Department. He came to North Carolina after serving as a Lieutenant and Assistant Sector Commander in Orlando, Florida. Chief Hollingsed has more than 35 years of law enforcement experience.
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Columbia University and a Master of Public Administration Degree from Troy University. He is also a graduate of the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville.
He has served as an Adjunct Professor in Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University for the past 20 years. He is currently serving as an Executive Board member and Past President of the North Carolina Police Executives Association and is also a Regional Director of the NC Association of Chiefs of Police. He is proud to serve on the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Opioids Task Force. He was also appointed to serve on the NC Joint In-Service Training Committee and was elected as Chairman of the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. He was recently appointed by the NC President Pro Tem of the Senate on the Task Force on Reforms for Opioid Drug Convictions. He serves as the Police Chiefs representative for the Governor’s Impaired Driving Task Force and was appointed by the NC League of Municipalities as a member of the Risk Management Assessment Team for Police Departments across the state. He also serves as a member of the Haywood Community College Board of Trustees.
Bill is married to his wife, Karen, and they have 3 daughters and a son-in-law, who is an Asheville Police Officer.