This submission is part of a regular series of columns in The Advertiser-Tribune that features county voices. The series allows a direct, unfiltered message straight from county officials to our residents.
Today’s column was submitted by Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner. The piece was printed in the A-T on June 19.
That is the word we use to describe many who hold public office. It is also what most people aspire to be in their daily lives.
Much has been written and discussed lately regarding our front-line workers, police, emergency medical technicians, doctors and nurses. They deserve our heartfelt thanks and admiration. There is, however, one group that frequently handles problematic situations while getting very little attention, and those are our judges.
Over the last few years, I have observed Juvenile Court Judge Jay Meyer handling various juvenile and family matters with kindness and compassion. He has been firm when it is called for but always with the goal of rehabilitation and problem resolution.
Our two Common Pleas Court judges, Mike Kelbley and Steve Shuff, along with Municipal Court Judge Mark Repp, have gone the extra mile as it relates to drug and alcohol addiction. Special legislation was passed by the State of Ohio specifically for Seneca County to establish a Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Program entitled P.I.V.O.T (Participating In Victory of Transition). In 2018, Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 354, which allowed the Seneca County judges to start the program.
Through the program, the three judges hold hearings all day on Thursdays for the sole purpose of trying to free people of their addiction and to become productive members of society. I have observed these sessions and watched the judges counsel, advise and interact with a firm, yet compassionate hand.
The judges are assisted by caseworkers from Oriana House. Those caseworkers go above and beyond to help improve the lives of the clients within the P.I.V.O.T. Program. This helps not only to improve the lives of these individuals but also helps to improve our community.
I believe countless lives have been saved through the efforts of these caseworkers and the judges. I have seen tears of frustration and tears of joy. I have seen failure and success through this program. While the judges work hard to keep folks on the right path, there is one word that comes to mind as it relates to the good work they are accomplishing.