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County bringing former NBA player back to discuss addiction

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Kindberg Ex-NBA player Chris Herren told his personal story to a crowd at Jamestown High School’s Merton P. Corwin Auditorium on Jan. 6. Herren will be returning to the county later this month to speak to a number of schools.

MAYVILLE – Earlier year Jamestown High School students got to hear the story of an NBA star’s downfall and eventual recovery from drug addition.

Now a number of new schools will be able to hear his story as well.

During the Chautauqua County Legislature meeting, lawmakers approved spending $5,000 to support the Chris Herren Project.

Herren, the former McDonald’s All-American basketball legend, will speak on Sept. 14 and 15 to students at Bemus Point, Brocton, Chautauqua Lake, Dunkirk, Falconer, Fredonia, Frewsburg, Sherman and Southwestern school districts to share his story.

“He’s a former NBA star and a drug addict and now he’s kind of made it his life’s mission to talk about this to children,” explained County Executive PJ Wendel, during a recent committee meeting.

Herren spoke at a public forum in Jamestown Jan. 6. Earlier he had spoken to JHS students. “When he was here in Jamestown, he was approached by several students afterward and he said ‘these students get it. They live this every day,'” Wendel said.

ESPN has produced a 30 for 30 special on Herren’s life called “Unguarded.”

Wendel said after Herren’s last visit, the Collaborative Children’s Solutions asked the county about bringing him back to speak to other high school students throughout the county.

Chautauqua County received a little over $1 million in the first round of the opioid settlement. They are required to use 79% of that money to address the opioid crisis in the county. Examples include treating opioid disorders, supporting people in recovery, connecting people who need help with help, addressing the needs of criminal justice involved persons, addressing the needs of pregnant or parenting women and their families, including babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome, and preventing the misuse of opioids.

Wendel said the Chris Herren project fits that definition for how the money can be spent. The legislature agreed, and authorized $5,000 to bring Herren back.

Legislator Dan Pavlock, R-Sinclairville, agreed. “Any outreach into our community to help fight the opioid drug problem in our county is helpful. This is going to be much warrented. Our drug problem is very severe in the county,” he said.

The legislature unanimously adopted the resolution.

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