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Retired judge chosen for Health Department award

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The Springfield-Greene County Health Department selected former Greene County Judge Peggy Davis as the 2019 recipient of its Harold K. Bengsch Award.

Bengsch, the namesake of the award and previous department director, nominated Davis for her judicial work on public health, according to a news release. Health Department spokeswoman Kathryn Wall said nominations are open to anyone and the award recipient is chosen by the department director’s office.

“My nomination of Peggy for the Harold K. Bengsch Award is an outstanding example of public health in action,” Bengsch said in the release. “Her dedication in helping and advocating for individuals with addictive behaviors in breaking their cycle of addiction, crime and incarceration has drawn nationwide recognition.”

Davis is the recently retired commissioner for Greene County’s court proceedings over drugs, mental health, and DWI and veterans cases. After her Dec. 1, 2018, retirement, Davis was succeeded by Kevin Austin, according to a separate news release last year from the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association.

She began working in the Greene County drug court in 2000, and Davis previously served as a Missouri public defender, as well as an assistant prosecutor for both the city of Springfield and Greene County, according to Judges.org.

The Health Department release cited Davis’ work to build local models for restorative justice courts that have become “known across the country for their innovation and success rates. Her professional legacy is changing our community by working one individual at a time to create sustainable solutions to give people a second chance, keep them out of jail and put them on a path toward sustainable success and healthier lives.”

Davis is scheduled to be honored with the award at 3 p.m. on April 5 at Mercy Hospital Springfield’s Catherine McAuley Conference Center.

Last year’s Harold K. Bengsch Award recipient was CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards. The inaugural award in 2017 went to Mercy internal medicine specialist Dr. J.T. Rogers, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

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