A local "recovery court" remains on track to begin May 1 in Hilliard's Mayor Court.

The Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County on April 8 approved Hilliard's request for a grant to launch the recovery court, said Dawn Steele, a staff attorney and prosecutor in Franklin County Municipal Court for the city of Hilliard.

Later the same day, Hilliard City Council approved legislation 6-0 to accept the grant and create an account for it.

Hilliard had applied for a $60,000 grant, though it received $49,449 from ADAMH, David Ball, Hilliard's director of communications, said April 9.

But "the exact dollar figure won't alter the decision for us to move forward," he said.

City Council on April 8 also appropriated up to $40,000 for Hilliard's share of the operating costs for the recovery court.

"We still plan to begin hearing cases May 1," Steele said.

Mayor Don Schonhardt is expected to name Scott VanDerKarr, a retired Franklin County Municipal Court judge, as the magistrate of the recovery court, Steele said.

Steele said she would identify and recommend participants for the recovery-court docket.

A treatment team that includes Steele, a defendant's attorney or public defender, representatives of treatment centers, a program coordinator and the magistrate would discuss a person's eligibility and, if necessary, the magistrate will make the final decision, Steele said.

The program is named "recovery court" to avoid prejudices associated with "drug" and instead focus on "recovery," she said.

"In general, only misdemeanor cases will be accepted," she said.

The goal of recovery court is to hold people accountable with drug screenings but also provide the support and resources required to recover, Steele said.

About $100,000 annually would be required to operate the program for 15 people, she said.

The estimated cost to operate the recovery court can be compared with the approximate cost of incarcerating a person in jail for a year, which is $29,000, and the more difficult-to-quantify cost of the thefts and other crimes addicts commit to support their addiction, VanDerKarr said.

Council member Nathan Painter previously said the program would help participants become "productive people" in society again.

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