Jeff Jones speaks Monday night at the Moving the Needle community forum at The Commons.

Jeff Jones speaks Monday night at the Moving the Needle community forum at The Commons.

Bartholomew County officials kicked off their efforts to stem the heroin and opiate epidemic with an event last night that drew a huge amount of community support.

Jeff Jones, a retired Cummins executive, has been appointed by the city and county governments to head up the effort. He announced that the program will be called the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County, or ASAP in BC.

It will consist of a three-pronged approach to address the drug problems:

Those will include a legal team headed by Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin, and teams for treatment and recovery headed by Columbus Regional Hospital’s Julie Abedian and a prevention team led by Beth Morris of the hospital’s Healthy Communities program.

Jones said he was encouraged by the leadership in the community dedicated to solving the problem.

Jones said he thought our community was as well equipped to deal with this problem as any other.

Hundreds of people turned out to the kickoff event at The Commons. During the quesiton and answer period, several told very personal stories of the drug struggles they or their family members have faced. Requests for an in-patient rehab facility, better mental health programs, a needle exchange and a crisis center all drew loud support from the audience.