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A collaborative effort
Treatment court honors visionary
2 Drug Court pic1
Senior Judge John Girardeau, left, accepts a plaque from Mike Devine during Dawson County Treatment Courts fifth anniversary event Thursday. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Less than a month after he was named to the National Drug Court Hall of Fame, the judge responsible for envisioning a treatment court in Dawson County was honored during a ceremony marking the program's fifth anniversary.

"I've been really given too much credit," said Northeastern Judicial Circuit Senior Judge John Girardeau. "Those of us who work in the drug court arena know that success is never attributable to just one person. It is a collaborative effort.

"They all have a genuine commitment to the recovery of all the drug court and DUI court participants. For most of them, it is also a calling and they give their hearts to it."

On Thursday, Mike Devine, former director of the circuit's accountability courts, presented Girardeau with a plaque "to honor a true visionary in the field of drug court."

A recovering addict, Devine admitted he is not the same man he was when he first met Girardeau years ago and began talking about a drug court in Hall County.

"My experiences with court were, how shall we say, not positive at that point in my life," Devine said. "Judge Girardeau quickly set aside all of my concerns and became a mentor for me. He is the man I continue to emulate the best I can."

Girardeau established Hall County's Drug Court in 2000 and later worked with then newly appointed Judge Jason Deal to create a similar program in Dawson County.

Since its establishment in July 2006, more than 140 people have graduated from Dawson County's hybrid DUI/drug court.

Glen Corindia was one of 12 graduates recognized during last week's ceremony.

A former postal worker, Corindia entered the program after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana and methamphetamine and manufacturing marijuana in 2009.

A soft-spoken man who carried a book of meditations to the podium, Corindia said he wanted to thank those involved in drug court.

"Without the support of everyone involved with my recovery over the last 26 months, none of this would have been possible," Corindia said.

He also thanked Arlene McClure, who after getting to know Corindia, organized and founded a Friends of Recovery chapter in Dawson County.

"She's my friend, my landlord, my employer, various other things. It was at her house that I was arrested," Corindia said. "I had only known her a couple of months, and by the grace of God, she stood by me."

McClure said Corindia introduced her to a life she had not known - that of a recovering addict.

"Glen's honesty about what he was going through, what it is like to go through the process of the drug court system, what it is like every day to acknowledge that he has an addiction and then to live with it," McClure said.

"By knowing Glen, it has changed the way I look at the recovery program. And it's by knowing Glen that I saw the need for Friends of Recovery in Dawson County."

The program's aim is to "let the rest of this community know how much good this program is doing," McClure said.

"Glen, you have set something in motion," she said. "I think it was all part of God's plan for both of us and I'm proud to have you as a friend."