A big impact
It takes a lot of partners to make the programs work, said Assistant Third District Chief Judge Joseph A. Bueltel when addressing the products of the Steele Waseca Drug Court.
Judge Bueltel represents the Steele County side and Judge Carol Hanks works with the Waseca County part of the program.
Seven graduates of the Steele Waseca Drug Court program attended a special picnic at Brown Park in Owatonna on Wednesday, July 31.
The Steele County Safe & Drug Free Coalition and the Steele Waseca Drug Court joined hands to celebrate their past successes. This is the first time the two organizations had sponsored the picnic together.
Special recognition was given to two partners with the Steele Waseca Drug Court.
Andi Gaffke, coordinator of the Steele County Safe & Drug Free Coalition, welcomed those in attendance and congratulated those participants in the programs for their hard work.
Nicole Grams, coordinator of the Steele Waseca Drug Court, pointed out that many of the alums were at the picnic.
Past graduates who attended the picnic were Shanda Grundhoffer, Destiny Reich, Shavon Hodges, Chris Powers, Randall (Bo) Jones, Cedric Dow and Scarlett Tanner.
Many Steele and Waseca county staff members and two county commissioners from Steele County and two from Waseca County attended the picnic. Commissioners Greg Kreuger and Rick Gnemi represented Steele County and commissioners Blair Nelson and De Malterer represented Waseca County.
Two Community Partner awards were presented by Judge Bueltel following the picnic lunch.
Angela Donlon, Adult Basic Education teacher in Owatonna Community Education and Kimberly Reyant, adult learning center site supervisor in Community Education, were saluted for their work in motivating Steele Waseca Drug Court participants to receive their GED.
"These wonderful ladies have been responsible for me getting my GED," said Steele Waseca Drug Court graduate Shavon Hodges. She graduated this past May.
"Without you, I wouldn't be where I am today," Hodges continued. "Wow, I am going to college now," she beamed.
"Our students deserve all the credit," said Reyant.
Another Community Partner award was given to Howard Lestrud for his detailed coverage of Steele Waseca Drug Court graduations.
His plaque reads: "Steele Waseca Drug Court extends this recognition award for your outstanding contribution in various activities conducted by yourself or your organization on several occasions to promote the mission and success of the Steele Waseca Drug Court program. We highly appreciate your best efforts in our achievements. Wishing you the best for your future endeavors."
In addition to alums attending the picnic, several current Drug Court participants, who are nearing graduation, attended the picnic.
Many young children of the current and past Drug Court also enjoyed the picnic.
Whitni Minton, Miss South Central Outstanding Teen, worked with some of the youngsters at the picnic on coloring projects. She is 17 and was second runner-up in state competition.