JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Attorney General Leslie Rutledge traveled to Jonesboro on Tuesday.
Rutledge said she wanted the opportunity to speak one on one with Craighead County and city leaders about issues they face in their area.
"Every year I travel to all 75 counties," Rutledge said. "We hold what we call 'Rutledge Roundtables'. It's an opportunity for me to get out in every community in Arkansas. It's too difficult for people to come to Little Rock sometimes. Little Rock doesn't have all the answers. I want to hear directly from the people here in Craighead County and Northeast Arkansas about issues that matter to them. Whether it's the opioid epidemic, crime, anything Arkansans are facing we want to talk about it today."
Matt Smith, the senior pastor of Refuge Church in Jonesboro, said he was pleased to have the chance to sit down and speak directly to the Attorney General.
"I appreciated the opportunity to get to sit in the room with the Attorney General," Smith said. "She wants to hear on the ground level what's happening in our state. I wanted to be here today to hear the discussion and possibly add anything that might come from my particular field of expertise in the church."
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin was part of the Rutledge Roundtable.
Perrin said he felt the meeting was very productive.
"I think it went really well," Perrin said. "The Attorney General showed us that she's not sitting in an office. She's out on the road and visiting with her constituents. She also brought some good information with her. She shared where we could contact certain people within her office who can help us and lead us, guide and direct us to certain agencies. Just like I talked about DHS and I talked about some others while ago. So, now she's going to get me an appointment with those folks. Her attorneys will go with me and talk about things."
"There are so many problems impacting our communities," Rutledge said. "Whether it's drug abuse or crime. Oftentimes our civic and faith leaders are the first ones on the ground. Working with families, working with those individuals. We want to hear from them. How we cannot just save money in government, but save lives."
One main issue that was addressed was the drug problem happening in the state.
"Meth is still a problem in Arkansas," Rutledge said. "Certainly, we have seen a dramatic increase in opioid use as well as heroin and fentanyl. We lose more people each year to accidental overdoses as it relates to prescription medications than we lose to car accidents. So, when you're watching the news and you see a car accident. . .we lose more lives to accidental overdoses. Most of these addictions start from their own prescriptions or start from their family's medicine cabinets and that's why we need to raise awareness of this issue. We need to raise awareness not just of the methamphetamine problem, but also the opioid epidemic, pain pills, heroin and fentanyl."
Jonesboro attorney and volunteer with the Out of the Dark Organization, Skip Mooney Jr., said he was grateful they spoke about the drug issue.
"I think the meeting went great," Mooney, Jr. said. "She came in and some of the most important things we discussed such as prescription drug addiction and addiction related to meth that she is trying to address. She's trying to talk to every community to get ideas and how to bring communities together so we can start trying to address these, as we have here locally."
Pastor Smith was pleased to discuss an area that concerned him... the foster care system.
"I did get to speak a little bit about the foster system issue," Smith said. "My wife and I are going through the process right now to become foster parents and we're becoming very familiar with some of the issues at DHS and the challenges that are concerned with that. Also, it's very closely tied to drug abuse in our state."
"If you don't talk about things," Perrin said. "If you don't get it out in the open, then nobody's going to talk about it. And we do have an issue with some things. So, I want to be clear before I take it to my council for adoption that it's correct and legal."
Mooney Jr. said not only did the meeting go well, he could see issues getting solved.
"We had several representatives here," Mooney Jr. said. "I think there had maybe been a lack of communication regarding the Medical Marijuana Act and how it's to be administered. So, it just goes to show meetings like this and getting people together to talk about these issues actually bring them out to where we can start to address them."
"I feel like the meeting went well," Smith said. "I feel like there was a meaningful exchange of information and the Attorney General was willing to hear all of it and even give opportunity for remedy."
Rutledge said she wants Arkansans to know she and her staff are ready to help.
"The Arkansas Attorney General's office is here to fight for you," Rutledge said. "Whether it's a con artist or criminal that's looking to take advantage of you. One of these IRS or Publisher's Clearing House scams or whether it's an issue you are facing in your own life on the opioid epidemic, please contact us. Let us know. We want to do the fighting for you. We want to go after con artists and criminals. We want to go after an overreaching federal government on regulations. So, please reach out to us. I'm the only Leslie in the office. I'm very accessible. So, let us know what we can do for you.
On Tuesday, Rutledge also traveled to Harrisburg and Wynne.
Click here to connect to the Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office.
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