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Judge Milton honored for his work with children

first_img Judge Milton honored for his work with children Associate EditorWhen a lawyer or judge does something special for children, Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead likes to send a thank-you note.And so it was, when long-time juvenile judge, the now retired W.A. “Bill” Milton of Grand Island, received the R. David Thomas Child Advocate of the Year Award.“Hopefully, by your example, other leaders and communities throughout Florida will recognize the importance of caring for all of our children,” Justice Anstead wrote to Judge Milton.“Surely, if there is a silver bullet for our social ills, it rests in the care of our children.”Caring for children comes naturally to Judge Milton, the father of three daughters and grandfather of four, the past president of the Florida Council of Juvenile Court Judges, the founder and charter member of the Lake County Boys Ranch and the Leesburg Boys Club, now the Boys and Girls Club.Judge Milton began his two dozen years on the bench in 1961, when he became county and juvenile judge of Lake County and ended up handling 8,633 children’s cases.As longtime friend Bill Mills said: “He was a progressive and innovative judge. He was unlike any other in Florida. Things that are being adopted today are the same things he was doing in the 1960s.”Besides handling a heavy caseload as a juvenile division judge, Milton also supervised the operation of the Juvenile Detention Center for Lake County. He helped turn it from a bare-bones operation into an innovative program that was only one of two centers in Florida that had a teacher assigned by the school board so that detained children could continue their schooling.Of 17 juvenile centers in the state in the mid ’60s, Lake County was one of only two counties that had a contractual working relationship with the school board to define truancy and develop written guidelines for detaining and helping turn around chronically truant children.Judge Milton also saw to it that a full-time mental health professional was assigned to the juvenile court staff. And he also instituted the first defensive driving school for juvenile offenders in Lake County.“During my years on the bench, I learned early on that the only chance we had to reduce our crime rate was to practice early intervention with ‘at risk’ children,” Judge Milton said. “I also believed that the only way our courts could be effective was to recruit the good people of the community as volunteers. Lake County was recognized many times for its volunteer programs for youth during my years on the bench.”As a 42-year member and past president of the Kiwanis Club, Judge Milton volunteered his time to the World’s Greatest Baby Shower, Clothes for School Kids, Backpacks for School Kids, and Books for Children.The Children’s Home Society of Florida not only nominated Judge Milton for the award created by Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, but a second honor by the Lake County Citizen’s Commission for Children.When Judge Milton sums up his many years working to help children, he said: “I felt it was the most important work that a judge could be involved in.”That attitude is what prompted Chief Justice Anstead to express in his letter: “Thank you for caring for our children.” December 15, 2002 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Judge Milton honored for his work with childrenlast_img read more

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