May 2017
Palm Beach County District Six

Governor Declares Public Health Emergency Over Opioid Epidemic

Tackling the opioid crisis that grips Palm Beach County is one of my top priorities.  Last year, our county recorded 592 opioid-related deaths, and from 2012-2016, the county saw a 509% increase in fatal overdoses where opioids were present.  These astounding statistics underscore just how tragic this epidemic has become. 

I am relieved that Florida Governor Rick Scott finally heard the voices of so many who have been asking him to declare a public health emergency. For the pain from loss so many families have faced, to those struggling to overcome addiction, I am hopeful that the Governor's declaration will open the door to a truly meaningful action plan to fight this disease and provide the resources needed to do so.  

I want to thank the elected leaders and organizations that joined me in calling for this declaration to be made, including the Martin County Board of County Commissioners, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Chief Judge Jeffrey Colbath, the Village of Wellington, the Palm Beach County League of Cities, and the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.  It has been encouraging to see so many members of our community recognizing this urgency and amplifying the voices of those who have been crying out to our state leadership for help.  

Finally, I want to share with you actions the Board of County Commissioners recently took to combat the opioid epidemic at the local level. In addition to sending a letter to the Governor requesting an emergency declaration, the Board approved a report containing a multitude of strategies to address the problem; committed $3 million over the next two years for treatment and staffing expansion; and added three new positions, a senior-level manager to oversee the opioid epidemic response and, for the medical examiner’s office, an assistant medical examiner and forensic technician.

I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners, staff, and all of our community partners to save the lives of those suffering through this terrible crisis.

Fantastic Food Giveaway May 11 in the Glades

Join us for the Fantastic Food Giveaway on Thursday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Hands Park, in Belle Glade. The park is located at 500 NW Fifth Street.
At this event, families will receive a carton of food including produce, bread, and other staples, at no charge, while supplies last. Pre-registration is not required.
Farm Share, a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit, is dedicated to recovering, sorting, and distributing nutritious food for people in need by administering a combination of USDA commodity programs and produce recovery operations.
For additional information, please contact Kelley Burke, or call 561-355-2206.

FAC Candidacy Announcement

I am exciting to announce that I submitted my candidacy for the Florida Association of Counties Second Vice President in order to represent local government before our state and federal partners on behalf of Florida's 67 counties.  

I strongly believe that passionate advocacy is key for effective results.  Life and work experience have developed my desire to stand up and speak for one and for all.  Together, our one voice is stronger as we work alongside our state and federal partners on issues facing Florida's counties. 

Paid Parental Leave

I am happy to announce that the Board of County Commissioners recently passed one of my priorities—providing paid parental leave for county employees.  Employees with at least one year of service will receive six weeks leave, concurrent with Family Medical Leave (FMLA), at 100% of the employee’s base salary for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child.  Parents who have a C-section will be eligible for eight weeks leave. 
Human Trafficking

I am appreciative that the Board of County Commissioners approved a new initiative to combat human trafficking.  The county will train county employees on the signs of human trafficking and conduct awareness campaigns to educate the public.  Actions will include in-person training with staff, the production of educational videos for new county employees, and the creation of a website to house resources and educational materials. Thank you to the National Association of Counties and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe for sharing this model with us.    

Opioid Community Conversation 

I recently held a community conversation to listen and learn from families affected by the opioid crisis. Over 100 people attended, sharing their painful, emotional stories and offering suggestions for how to stop the escalating overdoses and deaths we are seeing. I appreciate everyone who was there; not only did it raise awareness of the impact that opioids are having in our community, but it let our elected officials know that we demand action. Many thanks to West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio for partnering with me on this. 

Joint Town Hall 

On April 16, I was invited to a joint town hall with Congressman Brian Mast, the newly elected member of the United States House of Representatives who represents the Acreage. While Congressman Mast and I don’t share the same views on many issues, we reached across the aisle and pledged to work together on the opioid epidemic, infrastructure, transportation, and the environment.  It was an honor to have this town hall at Seminole Ridge High School.  Thank you to all who attended.  I was happy to bring John Kemp, Jr. on stage to share his powerful story of fighting a rare vascular disease and to meet Congressman Mast! 

Senator Rubio Roundtable

On April 12, Palm Beach County officials held a productive meeting with Senator Marco Rubio to discuss the opioid epidemic.  Recognizing the severity of the problem, Senator Rubio committed to: 1) seeking funding for innovative, results-driven pilot projects; 2) continuing to push the Departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development to tighten loopholes that restrict local and state government from regulating sober homes; 3) continuing to push China to fight the exportation of fentanyl into our country; and 4) funding the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).  

Opioid Listening Tour

Governor Scott recently announced a listening tour throughout the state to hear from communities being impacted by the opioid crisis.  The first stop was on May 1 in West Palm Beach in what ended up being a standing-room only event. I participated with over twenty other panelists representing law enforcement, emergency response, health, and government. 

I was disappointed that the Governor was not in attendance; however, the state officials who were--Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip and Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll--listened as over 250 people expressed their anger, shared their stories, and called for a public health emergency.  I want to thank all of the panelists and community members who came to make their voices heard.  

*Thank you to Carol Porter with Around Wellington for the photo 

New Housing Opportunities in the Glades
In March, the Palm Beach County Housing Authority held groundbreaking ceremonies in Belle Glade and South Bay. Legislative Aides Lisa Wilson, Kelley Burke, and Joseph Sophie represented District 6 while I was in Tallahassee fighting for Glades funding.     

Covenant Villas, a 144-unit apartment complex in Belle Glade, is being rehabilitated and will offer affordable housing for families and support services. The target completion date is December 2017. Congressman Alcee Hastings attended the groundbreaking.

New South Bay Villas is a combination of two existing residential properties, Marshall Heights and South Bay Villas.  The phase one renovation of the New South Bay Villas has been completed and phase 2, which includes the rehabilitation of 49 units in South Bay Villas, the demolition of 61 units at Marshall Heights, and the rebuilding of 64 units at Marshall Heights has begun and has an expected completion date of December 2018. 

These projects represent unique partnerships between PBCHA, Palm Beach County’s Department of Economic Sustainability and development partners to expand the availability of quality affordable housing in the Glades.

2017 Youth of the Year 

Congratulations to Je’Cynthia Nonar on being named the Boys and Girls Club of the Palm Beaches 2017 Youth of the Year!  A resident of Belle Glade and a senior at Glades Central High School, she is one of the county’s brightest and most community-minded individuals.  She has already made a significant impact by organizing and hosting the Glades Teen Summit.  We look forward to more great things from her in the future! 

Legislative Aide Joseph Sophie served as one of four volunteers on the judging panel.  It was a wonderful but difficult evening choosing between so many talented young candidates!


Melissa McKinlay
(561) 355-2206

Kelley Burke
(561) 355-2206
Joseph Sophie
(561) 355-2206

Lisa Wilson
(561) 996-4814
Copyright © 2017 District 6, All rights reserved.

Belle Glade Office
2976 State Road #15
Belle Glade, FL 33430
(561) 966-4814

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp