Press Releases

Harnett County Selected to Participate in National Reaching Rural Initiative

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) announced that seven community leaders from Harnett County were selected to participate in the inaugural class of the Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions Initiative.

Co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Justice Institute, the initiative will support the County’s work to address the overdose crisis that has disproportionately affected our local community.

“Illicit substances—particularly powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl—continue to claim lives at alarming rates. The impact of the opioid crisis has been particularly intense in smaller, more isolated communities where treatment options tend to be scarce,” said BJA Director Karhlton F. Moore. “Through the Reaching Rural Initiative, we are working to support rural public safety and public health practitioners to build deeper partnerships and develop collaborative, innovative solutions to address the needs and challenges in their communities.”

To lead this initiative in Harnett County, the following community leaders have been selected to serve on a cross-sector team to assist with the creation of bold solutions to combat our local substance abuse challenges.

  • Coley Price, Harnett County Manager’s Office
  • Christopher Appel, Harnett County Legal Department
  • John Rouse, Harnett County Health Department
  • Jeffrey Armstrong, Harnett County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jermaine White, Harnett County Schools
  • David Tillman, Campbell University
  • Mark Morris, Good Hope Hospital

Price and Appel will also serve as Co-Chairs of the committee.

Price is looking forward to participating in this initiative. “We are excited about this opportunity for Harnett County. It is an honor to be selected to such an elite group of professionals,” stated Price.  “This initiative will help us build relationships across the country to help find solutions thru our strategic planning process to help combat substance abuse in the County.”

Throughout the yearlong initiative, which kicked off in December, the fellows will meet monthly, virtually and in-person, to examine their local and regional challenges and identify opportunities to serve justice-involved individuals with substance use or co-occurring disorders more effectively.

The Reaching Rural Initiative is part of an ongoing interagency partnership to strengthen public safety and public health collaboration under BJA’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program.

For more information on the Reaching Rural Initiative and responses to the opioid epidemic in rural areas, visit


About The Reaching Rural Initiative
The Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions initiative is a collaborative project providing training to a class of over 67 fellows working to adopt bold solutions to the persistent challenge of substance use and misuse in 81 rural communities across 15 states. The fellows include elected county leaders, county and tribal judges, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, public defenders, public health and behavioral health practitioners, emergency management professionals, reentry coordinators, and individuals working in community nonprofits.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Justice Institute (SJI), with support from the Institute for Intergovernmental Research co-sponsor the project. The National Association of Counties (NACo) is a key partner. To learn more, visit

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