CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — A day after being appointed by Governor Justice to sit on the board of the West Virginia First Foundation,  Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Harvey reflected on the weight of the position.

Harvey says he’s seen how addiction and the opioid epidemic have ravaged West Virginia, especially southern West Virginia, where he grew up.  The Mountain State has the nation’s highest overdose death rate.

The members of the board, which include regional representatives like the Eastern Panhandle’s Tim Czaja, will be tasked with distributing the settlement funds.  Czaja is the Community Corrections Director for Berkeley County.

Harvey feels his experience as both a prosecuting and defense attorney will help in this new position.

He says he has already talked to Czaja and they plan some listening sessions with stakeholders.  He says ultimately, he wants to hear how communities can use this money to in his words, “make them whole” again after the more than decade-long opioid crisis in the Mountain State.

Governor Justice’s recent appointees will still need to be confirmed by the state senate, according to Harvey.

Matt Harvey was a guest on Tuesday’s Panhandle Live, heard weekday mornings on WEPM/WCST The Panhandle News Network.

You can read more about the foundation and its current slate of appointees here.



Gov. Jim Justice named several new members to the board that will oversee how West Virginia communities spend more than $1 billion in settlements from opioid cases.

The governor’s appointees include Jefferson County Prosecutor Matt Harvey; former state Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy; Harrison County schools Superintendent Dora Stutler; attorney and philanthropist Alys Smith, who is the wife of Marshall University President Brad Smith; and Raleigh County Commissioner Greg Duckworth.

Opioid addiction has been devastating in West Virginia, which has by far the nation’s highest overdose death rate.

They are being named to the 11-member board for the West Virginia First Foundation, which sets guidelines for what happens when the state and the many counties and cities use lawsuit settlement money to push back against ongoing drug addiction issues.

The governing board is supposed to include expertise and regional representation. The governing board includes five members from different regions appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. Six more members are to be named by regions of local governments.

Board members are also charged with appointing a panel with expertise in substance abuse treatment, mental health, law enforcement, pharmacology, finance and healthcare policy and management. The expert panel is supposed to provide guidance on strategies for abating the opioid epidemic in communities around the state.