Settlement money heading to Seneca County
By Sheri Trusty
In September, 2021, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced an $808 million settlement with three large pharmaceutical companies to provide compensation to communities impacted by the opioid crisis. A portion of those funds will be managed through the private nonprofit organization, OneOhio Recovery Foundation.
Now, Mircea Handru is at the forefront of the process that will bring some of those funds to Seneca County to help with addiction prevention and recovery efforts.
Handru is the executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Ottawa, Sandusky & Wyandot Counties, and he has served as the unpaid Region 17 Chair for OhioOne for about a year. As chair, he represents the region at the state level. Region 17 encompasses eight counties, including Seneca County.
“The settlement money was divided into three parts,” Handru said. “Fifteen percent stays with the state, 30 percent will be made in direct payments to local governments, and 55 percent goes to the OneOhio Foundation.”
The OneOhio funds will be distributed by grant process and must be utilized for specific purposes relating to addiction and mental health. On October 18, Handru was chosen to manage the grant process in Region 17.
“I want to create an easy grant process that is transparent for the community,” Handru said.
Handru’s role as executive director of the Mental Health Board is distinct from his role with OneOhio. The board will not be a grant recipient.
“The Mental Health Board will not apply for funds. I want to help local mental health organizations apply for funds,” Handru said.
As the volunteer chair and grant lead for OneOhio, Handru has another opportunity to do what he does every day – positively impact mental health and recovery efforts in Seneca County.
“I’m going to plan future meetings with Seneca County stakeholders. We’ll decide on priorities for the money and hold a public meeting in two or three months,” Handru said.