Bruce Winges
Editor

We need to talk now!

The Beacon Journal is leading a public conversation about heroin in our community from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.

There will be a presentation from a panel and time for your questions and participation.

The panelists include people who have first-hand experiences with the heroin crisis. They are:

• Crystal Yoak, a recovering addict who has been sober since March 2014. She hopes to remove the stigma we place on addicts by raising awareness.

• Steven Brennan, a recovering addict who started the “Heroin Help” movement this summer. He posts flyers listing people who can be called to help those in need.

• Jim Nice, Akron’s police chief since 2011. He has instituted a heroin investigative unit at the police department and is committed to enhancing the department’s relationship with the community.

• Dr. Alan Shein, co-director of the Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program at Summa Health. He also is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

• Tonya Block, the assistant health commissioner at Summit County Public Health. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Akron.

• Jerry Craig, executive director of Summit County’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. He has been with ADM since May 2007, previously serving as manager of clinical services.

The city of Akron is offering free parking for the event. Gates will be raised at 120 S. Broadway, 40 S. High St. and 32 S. High St. after 5 p.m.

To start the conversation, we have been publishing stories about heroin in our community. Those stories may be found at www.ohio.com/news/heroin.

You can join the conversation on Twitter at #endingthesilence.

This in an important conversation for our community.

Please join us.

Bruce Winges is editor of the Akron Beacon Journal. He may be reached at 330-996-3858, bwinges@thebeaconjournal.com or @BruceWingesABJ.