HAZARD-Circuit court in Perry County will soon have a big change as Circuit Judge William “Bill” Engle III will not be running for re-election this year, leaving the position open for another judge to fill at the end of his term.
Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers was on hand to honor Judge Engle with a congressional record at a luncheon at the Perry County Public Library on Friday.
The record stated that Judge Engle began his term in 2004 and was elected with a special election. When Engle entered office, the drug problem in Hazard had risen to the point that Hazard had been dubbed the nation’s pain killer capitol the previous year.
The record went on to state that Engle established a drug court in Perry County in 2005. Approximately 60 people have graduated the drug court program in Perry County since its inception. The program has helped many families in the area with not only freeing a family member from addiction but ensuring child support is paid, graduates become gainfully employed, and babies being born free of addiction.
“Judge Bill Engle has been a champion for drug courts,” Rogers said.
Operation UNITE officials were also on hand to honor Judge Engle and his efforts with the drug court program.
“I think to be effective you need inspiration,” Dan Smoot, UNITE president and CEO, said of Engle.
Mayor Nan Gorman and Hazard Police Chief Minor Allen presented Engle with a plaque thanking him for his years of service to the city.
“Today we are here to honor a man of high integrity, a great man,” Gorman said.
Rogers also received the last payment of the promised $500,000 donation from Fred Parker, Kentucky River Properties (KRP) CEO, to the UNITE program.
With that donation, Rogers stated, “Today five people will be taken off the waiting list and fast-tracked to treatment”.
Rogers went on to state that these donations helped pay for treatment for individuals who would not otherwise be able to receive it. The donation also helped to pay for things that the graduates needed to help get back on their feet after leaving the drug court program.
“Kentucky River Properties has been the biggest subsidy of the UNITE program in its history” Rogers said as he thanked KRP for its donation.
Gwendolyn Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.