FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners have temporarily suspended the volunteer Opioid Settlement Committee to review and revamp rules and committee member eligibility.

Commissioners made the decision during its meeting April 16, a week after commissioners voted to remove a committee member from the advisory panel. There were two executive sessions at meetings April 2 and 9. Volunteer Keith Amato of Wilton was the subject at the first executive session but not the second one.

Several people spoke in favor of the committee and didn’t want it to go away. They agreed that more work needed to be done to clarify rules and committee membership.

Commissioners removed him April 9.  The Sun Journal reached out to Amato via Facebook Messenger after he was removed to give him a chance to comment before the story was published.

His response was: “I am a person in recovery and suffer (post-traumatic stress disorder) due to childhood trauma,” he wrote. “That is why I signed up for the committee. I am sad that my voice didn’t matter and that I had to find out from a newspaper reporter rather than the commissioners.”

Commission Chairman Lance Harvell of Farmington began the commissioners April 16 meeting with an apology to Amato for learning of his removal through a reporter.


The letter dated April 12 said that Franklin County commissioners voted to remove Amato based upon complaints and concerns from other committee members.

“Additionally, I would like to apologize for the way that you received notification of your removal from the committee,” Harvell wrote. “It was never intended for it to occur in such a manner. It is inexcusable that we were unable to reach to you prior to the Sun Journal contacting you.”

No one has elaborated on what those concerns or complaints against Amato were.

However, a county employee said she and another person sent emails to Amato after the April 9 meeting to try and alert him that he had been removed.

The committee was set up last year. It reviews grant applications for the nearly $800,000 the county is to receive over 18 years. More settlement money may be coming from pharmaceutical company settlements regarding opioids. Two grants have been approved for a total of $20,000.

Several of the committee members are in the medical profession, some are from nonprofit or for-profit agencies, law enforcement and a county employee.


After discussing the issue of what to do about the committee April 16, it was agreed to temporarily suspend it and bring back a revision of rules, including a conflict of interest, and other related information by June 1.

Commissioner Bob Carlton of Freeman Township agreed to be the liaison for commissioners and the committee for the rest of the year.

Amato wrote Monday that he was upset that he was removed from the committee since no one had a problem with him before this and no one told him why he was removed. He doesn’t believe his voice was heard, he said. He serves on several local committees, including the Wilton Planning Board.

He said he hasn’t accepted Harvell’s apology because he believes two more county employees owe him one, although he was not referring to commissioners.

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