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Treatment court hires new coordinator
Treatment Court Herrington mug

After a recent personnel shift, the Dawson County Treatment Court has named Heather Herrington as its new coordinator.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit Judge Jason Deal, who presides over the court, made the decision to release the former three-member staff in April.

Herrington was previously the lead counselor for the Hall County Treatment Court, which also falls under Deal's jurisdiction.

"I've been working in Hall [County] for about eight years, so I know what worked there," she said. "I'm hoping to bring that experience here to Dawson."

Debbie Mott, director of treatment services for the Hall and Dawson County courts, said she believes Herrington is the right fit.

"Heather Herrington has been a drug court counselor since 2006 and is more than ready to serve as coordinator of Dawson County Treatment Court," she said. "As a licensed counselor with training in evidence-based treatment curriculum, she has the right combination of education, credentials and experience needed to continue the meaningful work established before her."

With her training in evidence-based treatment, Herrington plans to bring a new approach to Dawson County, rather than using the 12-step program approach previously used.

"The first thing we'll be looking at is curriculum," she said. "That's a big one for me. I want to go to an evidence-based curriculum."

It's a system that Mott said she believes Herrington will implement well.

"Over the years she's served as the lead counselor for Hall County Drug Court, I've watched her critique the curriculum being used, questioning whether it was the best option for participants then take an active role with the coordinator in revamping it to ensure it is solid and applicable," she said.

Mott said that it was Herrington's concern for the participants' best interests was another reason she was chosen.

"She has a reputation among participants as being approachable and fair but firm and consistent, and she already has the trust of many members of the treatment court team," Mott said.

And it's that consistency that Herrington hopes to bring to Dawson County.

"The participants just want some consistency," she said "They want someone to stay with them throughout the program until they graduate and I think they deserve that."

As for Dawson County, Mott believes that Herrington will settle into her new town nicely.

"Ms. Herrington will quickly see what a caring and supportive community this is, and I look forward to the relationships she will establish with our existing partners to meet the needs of those we serve," she said.

And with only two days on the job, Herrington has already received that warm welcome.

"Everybody here has been very nice. It's a small town - a lot smaller than Hall County - but everyone I've met has been very nice and the participants have been very welcoming," she said. "I just want to get the word out that we are starting fresh. We're here, we're looking to help people in the community and we want to give whatever resources we can provide."