Retiring Vaughan honored at drug court graduation

November 21, 2013
N. HAVERHILL — The 11th county drug court graduation took place on Monday afternoon. Three graduates and one about to finish were recognized for their participation in the rigorous alternative sentencing program.

The Honorable Timothy J. Vaughan, the supervisory judge for the drug court, received an award, as well. Vaughan, who is retiring, attended his final graduation as the judge who oversees the program.

Those who are in drug court are given a chance to change their lives and avoid prison. The goal is to ensure people receive treatment for drug or alcohol addiction as they submit to random drug testing and mandatory meetings with program administrators, including Vaughan.

Sanctions can be issued to drug court participants based on their conduct. A sanction can be as serious as a return to jail. It was noted at the ceremony that two of the current graduates did not receive a single sanction during their time in drug court.

Dozens have graduated from the program since its inception in 2007. Among many success stories are eight graduates who regained custody of their children, eight college enrollees, and three who started their own businesses.

Ed Rajsteter, President of the Friends of the Grafton County Drug Court, presented Vaughan with his award. Named after Vaughan, the award will annually honor an employee who administers the program.

New Hampshire Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau referred to the drug court graduates as "the most important people in this room." Because drug court can change so many lives for the better, Nadeau said, "This is an important program that desperately needs to continue."

Nadeau added that county employees who support the drug court have a special role. From Judge Vaughan to the supervisory correctional officers and others, Nadeau said the team was "engaging fully in the journey" that the graduates undertook.

Jean Burling continued the praise for the graduates. She wished the graduates "every success as you turn your lives around." Because of strong support from county employees, Burling said Grafton County's drug court was "a leader in the state."

Judyth Leavitt, a licensed substance abuse and mental health counselor in Lebanon, provided further praise for the county's drug court. Of the graduates and drug court participants, she said, "It has always been an honor to work with each of you." Concluding, she said, "We have been blessed to have you in our lives."

Each of the drug court graduates also spoke. They thanked the drug court employees, as well as family. Bruce Adams, who started the program in 2011, said he was not sure if he could make it through the rigors of drug court. With the supportive staff and his family, however, Adams promised to stay on the right path.

County Commissioner Michael Cryans said the county was proud to fund the drug court. To the graduates, he said, "You're what this program is all about."

Cryans also honored his friend, Ray Burton, who died last week following a battle with cancer. "It's painful to lose a good friend," Cryans said of his fellow commissioner. Cryans asked all of the graduation's attendees to stand and applaud Burton's legacy of service to the county and state.

Graduates heard two additional positive messages near the end of the ceremony. Rajsteter read "The Optimists Creed," wishing that the graduates will be "too strong for fear," move beyond past mistakes, and "give every living creature you meet a smile." This was followed by "When You Wish Upon A Star," played by harpist Patricia Williams.

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