It's one thing to sit on the bench and pass judgement on those who break society's laws.
It's another thing altogether to decide to take action that goes beyond the bench and into the heart of the community.
County President Judge Nancy Butts, 55, could not sit idly by this year when heroin reared its ugly head again and again and again, when it became clear that Lycoming County was in the throes of a nasty epidemic.
Butts used the power of her office to pull together people from all corners of the county to form a task force to meet the problem head-on, and for this reason the Sun-Gazette has named her Person of the Year for 2013.
"Eighteen years ago, the world was going to come to an end because a woman was going to be a judge," Butts told the Sun-Gazette in a recent interview.
The first female judge in Lycoming County, she worked closely with
Shea Madden, executive director of the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, to start a heroin task force.
"We've seen a huge increase in heroin, actually opiates, prescription drugs and more," Madden said. Those identifying opiates as their drug of choice jumped from 9 percent in 2009 to almost 30 percent this year.
Much of this year's crime has been "addiction driven," Madden said.
The two contacted people across the community and business spectrum to get involved in the task force. In September, almost 80 people came together from six categories: law enforcement, faith, community, social services, education and medical.
They met again several weeks later, breaking into groups and appointing representatives to meet monthly as a steering committee.
"People are talking about it and people are listening," Butts said, which is a tremendous step forward. "Everybody's invested in this and making a difference and participating."
Madden said Butts learns every angle she can to bring the best knowledge and expertise to the table.
"I don't work with that many people who are that dedicated. I can't express to you how dedicated she is - the follow-through, the support, the prevention," Madden said of Butts. "She's always on the cutting edge, with treatment court, the task force or the day reporting center."
County Judge Marc F. Lovecchio said her approach is a proactive one.
"She essentially took the bull by the horns and got everyone together," he said. "She brought everyone to the table ... Many of us are idea people ... She doesn't just talk, she does."
"Judge Butts is an integral component of our criminal justice system," said county prison Warden Kevin DeParlos, saying she maintains a close working relationship between the court and prison system, and she works to enhance the system.
"To me, Judge Butts is a consummate professional, is passionate about her work and is deserving of this recognition," DeParlos said. "I applaud her leadership efforts in establishing the heroin task force committee this year, as well as her ongoing research involving the development of a day reporting program."
Roni Lynn Kreisher, who has been her court reporter since Butts became judge, is her teammate on the Cancer Kickers Relay for Life team.
"She has always been a great supervisor and, more importantly, a true friend. She has true compassion for her duties as a judge and a friend and has always taken great pride in her work," Kreisher said.
She makes her community "a better place," Kreisher said.
County Commissioner Tony Mussare said she is a "sincere judge" who truly wants to make a difference.
"She's a very good person, and she sees the challenges that face the county with the courts, so I really believe her decision-making process is for the good of the people," Mussare said.
Commissioner Jeff Wheeland said from a commissioner's perspective, Butts has been "excellent to work with," calling her foresighted, progressive and attentive, especially with inmate housing issues.
"She is a concerned judge with respect to the housing issues we have here," Wheeland said.
Butts discussed her professional and personal journey.
"In November 1995, the county was faced with a decision: Who would be the first woman judge in Lycoming County," Butts said.
It was between her and Cindy Rank Person.
"I was a massive underdog. I squeaked by the primary by 35 votes, and won by less than 600," Butts said.
She's practiced law since 1986, when she was an assistant public defender, and became president judge here in 2010.
She's chairwoman of the Criminal Procedural Rules Committee, the county's most senior treatment court judge, founded drug court in 1998 and is active in DUI court. She's also a life member of the Old Lycoming Township Fire Co., a certified EMT, president of the Community Theatre League and a mother.
Butts said she is guided in life by one sentiment: "To whom much is given, much is expected."
"There was never any question in my mind that I wanted to give back and make my community a better place," she said.
As founder and most senior treatment court judge, she works hard to live a life that reflects the hard work the program demands of its participants.
"If you really believe in that prong of rehabilitation, then you owe it to the people you've sentenced to not just show up and sign off, but actually to be committed to what you believe in," she said.
Her role as a mother is a particularly strong influence on each area of her life.
"I just want to make for him a great experience growing up like I did growing up and have the ability to not be limited by anything," she said of her son.
She grew up in an era in which females were more limited.
"Back in the '70s, girls didn't do certain things. Women only worked certain jobs, and men could do anything. Women were nurses and men were doctors. Even fewer women were lawyers," Butts said.
Instead of letting that stop her, she pushed through with the support of her parents, who encouraged her to go to college. She was the first in her family to do so.
Even when she was very young, she believed she was destined to do great things, and so fashioned her behavior and actions to that end.
"I learned early on to listen to God's still, small voice," she said.
Today, "Everything is grown out of the same philosophy: You give back," Butts said. "I'm so fortunate so many people helped me to accomplish my goals; the least I can do is to do the same for others - pay it forward."