The City of Menomonie and the Menomonie Police Department initiated preliminary plans for Project Hope earlier this month, a proposed opioid and methamphetamine prevention project that will work to avert addiction in Dunn County. 

Project Hope will include four levels: Prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm reduction. 

The proposal comes long overdue as Dunn County spent north of one million dollars last year in human services alone, according to Menomonie Mayor Randy Knaack. Although it will be expensive right off the bat, Knaack thinks it will “cost us a lot more money in the future than it will cost to launch Project Hope.” 

Project Hope will be unlike most other addiction prevention programs. “Project Hope is really set in a way where people can get another opportunity to make it through life without being addicted,” Mayor Knaack said. “What we are looking at is a new way of dealing with this epidemic.” 

The National Center for Health Services reported that more than 69,029 people died of drug overdose in 2019, only 2.9% less than the year before. Of these deaths, the NCHS estimated 7 out of 10 were directly related to opioids. 

Many community members know someone affected by the ongoing crisis. Health, Wellness and Fitness major Alex Bowe believes, “There have been too many lives ruined because of these drugs, and we need to start doing something about it.” The University of Wisconsin-Stout Junior added, “Prevention of opioid addiction in small towns is very important because it helps lower the high percentage of drug users.” 

The city council will determine financing options for Project Hope in March and aim to have it up and running by June.