New Castle News

January 8, 2013

Probation officer post to augment drug court

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County’s Drug Court has been so successful it is calling for the addition of a supervisory probation position.

The salary board voted 5-0 Monday to create the full-time position of adult probation treatment counselor at an annual pay of $40,000 plus benefits.

Voting were the three commissioners — Dan Vogler, Steve Craig and Bob Del Signore — Controller David Gettings and President Judge Dominick Motto.

The drug court was started last February as a way for non-felon drug offenders to work off their charges, avoid jail and improve their lives by enrolling in an intensive rehabilitative program, overseen by the courts, adult probation and Lawrence County Drug and Alcohol.

Motto told the salary board Monday the program “has greatly exceeded our expectations.”

Six people who enrolled in it have been able to overcome years of drug addiction and one person is planning to start classes at Butler County Community College. Another enrollee is working and is arranging to get her children back.

One mother was able to wake up on Christmas morning with her children, Motto said.

“Each one has had a complete change in her life,” he said, “and there are many, many more people to help. The program is working and changing lives.”

The adult probation position also is needed for other treatment programs, such as mental health court and veterans treatment court, where the position will be used to closely supervise the people going through them, Motto said, “so we could score all of those avenues.”

He pointed out that the work “is labor intensive. The person in the position has to keep close tabs on these people until we can wean them off of their support systems.”

He noted a grant obtained through Lawrence County Drug and Alcohol will allocate $35,000 for the position.

Vogler asked whether the drug and alcohol agency will continue to apply for the funds in future years.

“The search for additional funding is something we always pursue because we want this program to grow,” Motto responded.

Vogler said he recognizes the need for the program and commented it goes hand in hand with the extra narcotics officer positions created in the district attorney’s office last year to continue the battle against drugs problems in the community.

“Those (six) people in that program could very well be in jail if it was not for this program,” Motto pointed out. “I’m sincere when I tell you, this program changes people’s lives and it does work.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)