The Columbia County Circuit Court opened a drug treatment court program in Augusts, marking a victory for court staff, law enforcement and volunteers.

Judge Todd Hepler announced on Aug. 30 that he would be heading the now-open Drug Treatment Court. The announcement followed months of preparation and funding through a $200,000, five-year Wisconsin Department of Justice grant with matching in-kind county support.

The development of a drug treatment court, complementing the programming of the OWI Treatment Court , started and then headed by Judge Alan White, had been a point of discussion leading up to the April 2015 Branch 1 judicial election which brought Hepler to the his seat.

The push for the program was aided by the volunteer coalition of legal, law enforcement and healthcare professionals with private citizens making up Prevention and Response Columbia County, which had earlier come together to help secure a $1 million grant in 2016 for the creation of a Medication Assisted Drug Treatment (MAT) program, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.