Commissioners get a rare dose of hope from Washington

Two Lycoming County Commissioners went to Washington last week and found out federal government leaders might not be as out of touch with local issues as they are often portrayed.

“I think they are listening,” said Commmissioner Tony Mussare. “That gives us hope.”

He said, most importantly, “These people didn’t talk like government people, they talked like businessmen.”

His comment underscores the reality that no one has been able to assume federal power brokers really hear the problems that are prevalent throughout the country they serve. The commissioners could not recall any previous session between county leaders and department heads of a sitting administration.

They came home with direct contact information geared to helping them solve some of the local problems.

Regarding some of the most pressing problems, the commissioners were told the administration hopes to put funding toward getting mental health patients and addicts the treatment they need to keep them out prison, which strikes to the heart of what is missing in the formula for fighting the opioid epidemic.

They were told $50 billion is being allotted by the administration to fight the epidemic, with funds going toward surveillance, pain management services and safe practice, overdose reversal drugs and, most importantly, improving treatment and recovery services.

Regarding other issues, the commissioners were told of a streamlined process to get funds and projects for infrastructure improvements more quickly to the performance stage.

They were told of plans for a more palatable path to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

Of course, talk is cheap.

Meetings are one thing. Execution is quite another. Especially given the malaise politics in Washington creates.

But at least it appears the sitting administration has some solutions in mind for some of the region’s most pressing problems.

At least they are listening.

At least they are exploring some practical solutions.

Hopefully, results in the next few years will reflect the outcome of meetings like last week’s in Washington.