In April 17 IssueRussell County News
Close to $43,000 in fines, restitution and other fees have been paid and there are 15 people which taxpayers did not pay the state to house in jail, but drug court’s human equation was what the presenters and graduates were talking about at Monday’s graduation ceremony.
There were 15 people sitting in front of their families and friends who had proven they were clean and sober, had been staying that way and proven they knew what it would take to remain that way. Among them five drug-free babies had been born during their time in the program.
More than 20 lives were improved by the program, and each graduate made their way to the podium to speak not just about the changes in their lives, but about the bond of love and respect they developed with the testers, and those responsible for holding their feet to the fire, noses to the grindstone.
“It was not easy, but it was worth it,” said Billy Fox. “Without you guys I would not have a family.”
To those who had said he’d never get “clean” Fox told them, “look up here.”
But he commented that those people weren’t around him anymore anyway.
Virginia Ann Smith stood at the podium, choking back the tears.
“I’m 50-years-old,” she told the packed room. “Now I know who I am.”
She said she was well on her way to finishing her GED and was obviously proud of her accomplishments in the program.
Donna Stephens,the program supervisor, had been one of those who introduced the graduates and spoke of the participants’ hard work, but also of the dedication and support from Judge Vernon Miniard, Commonwealth’s Attorney Mathew Leveridge as well as the staff from Premier and Adanta.
Case Specialist Kathy Stearns was holding back the emotion as she spoke of how proud she was of the graduates, six of whom were from Russell County, while the rest were from Wayne County. The program also serves Clinton and Cumberland counties.
Roger Roy, one of the testers who verified the participants were drug-free during their participation in the program, went through the names of every participant naming off the qualities he saw in each, and encouraging them to move forward with the new freedom they have earned.