Magistrate Louis P. Wargo III presided over a special session of the Ottawa County Municipal Court Tuesday, March 5, at 10 a.m. Wargo recognized two graduates of its Benchmark Alcohol/Drug and Mental Health Intervention Court Program, the 20th and 21st graduates overall, after its regularly scheduled weekly session. The Court session, followed by a reception for the graduates and their supporters, honored the program’s graduates for their successful completion of the approximately two-year court program. Judge Frederick C. Hany II noted that, “Since its inception in July 2008, the Benchmark Program has served the families and citizens of Ottawa County by addressing the County’s mental health and substance abuse issues. That these are the Court’s 20th and 21st graduates, speaks volumes, in and of itself, to the court’s long term commitment to the families and citizens of this county.”
Magistrate Wargo, who regularly presides over the weekly court sessions, commended the graduates, stressing the fact that “each of them have made great strides turning their personal lives around for not only their individual betterment but also their families, friends, and our community as well. These graduates have seen that through perseverance, hard work and commitment, that they have not only bettered themselves, but others as well. These graduates have continued the tradition of this Benchmark Program by surpassing all of the Court’s previous graduates, not only in terms of their personal accomplishments but also by serving as a positive role model and mentor for those participants following them in the program.”
The Court’s Benchmark Intervention Program has been, with the assistance of the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office and other community agencies, supervising a rehabilitation program for chemically dependent individuals as well as individuals with serious mental health problems charged with misdemeanor offenses since July, 2008. Funding for the establishment and operation of the Intervention Court was initially being supplemented by a Department of Justice Grant, but has, since that date, received the full support of the Ottawa County Commissioners.