Jul 29, 2016

Packed room for adult drug court graduation ceremony at the Courthouse

Packed room for adult drug court graduation. There was barely room to stand. Judge Timothy Cissna did the welcome and closed the ceremony.

Families, supporters and other current participants of the program were in attendance. 8 graduates.

Representatives from HCSO, Public Defender Ms. Kelly Neel, Conflict Counsel's Mr. Kaleb Cockrum and DA Maggie Fleming were there for the ceremony.

Present from Probation were Chief Probation Officer Bill Damiano, Joseph Petsche, Barbara Robie and Shaun Brenneman,

Judge Cissna and Probation staff received applause as they spoke. Judge Cissna said he had "never seen so many people".

"Those of us that are employed look forward to 5'0 clock," said Judge Cissna. "This week I looked forward to 2:30 on Friday."

Brenneman said that it is necessary to have an active judicial officer for the program and while they have had many "great ones in the past", he singled out Judge Cissna.

Brenneman also said that in the media, "we see people getting arrested and that this is a chance to show the community that people do change."

Brenneman said that due to his law enforcement background, "he started out cynical and now has hope."

"Each person sat down with their probation officer and prepared a speech of their journey; this is just a snap shot," said Ms. Robie.

Travis was one of the first speakers. He decided to turn his life around after his fifth DUI. He said he used "alcohol to numb him from life." He said he wanted to be a "better father to his children and he could not stop drinking on his own." Now he is employed full-time working in the lumber industry. He is "almost" two years sober.

"It feels great to stand up here and say I did it," said Travis. "This is the biggest accomplishment of my life."

Referring to Petsche, he said, "At first, I thought he hwas a hard ass." The room broke into laughter.

Mr. Damiano said that inviting current participants of the program is so that "they feel inspired seeing that people do graduate. It is a 18-24 months program."

Only KIEM and myself here to cover the ceremony.

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