Superior Court Judge Dennis Yule Celebrates One Of His Last Drug Court Graduations Wednesday - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Superior Court Judge Dennis Yule Celebrates One Of His Last Drug Court Graduations Wednesday

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - After about six years of leading drug court, Superior Court Judge Dennis Yule is handing over the reigns to Judge Carrie Runge at the Benton County Courthouse.

Wednesday afternoon was extra emotional at the courthouse as five men graduated from the drug court program.

They have stayed drug free and now have a start fresh at life.  

Judge Yule said he has seen almost 90 people go through adult drug court program in Benton County.

He said it is an important program for both the people in the program and people in our community.

Yule has played an extremely important role in connecting with the people in drug court by giving them a positive authority figure in their life.

Zerihun 'Zeek' Salamu said Judge Yule has made his life significantly better.  He said, "He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself."

23-year-old Salamu was born in Ethiopia.  He lived in a refugee camp for 9 years where whole-made alcohol was served to him as a young boy which was the beginning of his serious drug and alcohol addiction.

For years Salamu was known by many of the Kennewick Police officers as a trouble maker, but Wednesday was a different story.

Salamu said, "Drug court has changed my life."

Yule said, "I consider them (the graduates) all my friends.  I'm very proud of each one of them.  They inspire me and all of us on the drug court team."

Yule will continue to help with drug court after he retires.

He says he's looking forward to hiking and mountain biking in retirement.

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