Six participants in the Newton County Adult Court Recovery program completed the program and received certificates in a commencement ceremony on Wednesday, June 7.

Six participants in the Newton County Adult Court Recovery program completed the program and  received certificates in a commencement ceremony on Wednesday, June 7.  
The ceremony was held in the Division 1 Courtroom in the Newton County Judicial Center at noon. After the Pledge of Allegiance, Alissa Hendricks, Treatment Court Administrator for Newton and McDonald Counties, opened the ceremony by sharing some of the program's history.
"Treatment Court began 18 years ago, with Judge Tim Perigo and the team he put together," Hendricks said. "Since 1999, 570 individuals have participated in the adult court recovery program and there have been 353 graduates, six of them today."  
Hendricks introduced Perigo and Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Jake Skouby.  
"They are the original founding fathers (of the program) so to speak," she said.
Missouri 160th district state representative Bill Reiboldt was on hand and said a few words. He noted that his predecessor, former state representative Kevin Wilson had always given his support to the program. "
We really appreciate the drug court," Reiboldt said. "We appreciate Judge Perigo and Mr. Skouby and all the ones who make this possible.  I've tried to carry on the good work Kevin (Wilson) started and I hope who ever takes my place a year and a half from now will continue.  It's remarkable to see the participants finish this program.  This is what it's all about."

Skouby also spoke briefly to those who have completed the program. "We don't take the effort you put into it (the program) lightly.  Anyone who knows, knows treatment court isn't easy. We've had a really good experience over the years with those attending.  I just want to say to the graduates and all those participating, congratulations."

Reiboldt handed out the certificates and each graduate had the opportunity to speak.  Some had a few simple words of  thanks and others had more they wanted to say.  Skouby mentioned that two of the participants, Carson and Shania, are the exception rather than the rule because both were part of a Track One program.  According to Skouby, for the few participants who qualify for the Track One program, the electronic records of any remaining charges are destroyed so it's as if the charges never happened.

The last to receive his diploma and speak, John, shared more of his personal experience.  "I met a lot of fantastic people through this program," he said. "I did volunteer work I probably never would have done."

All agreed that completing the program is far from easy.  "I needed this.  Without help, it (recovery) is too much for us," John said.  "I put a lot of work into recovery  I just can't tell you how thankful I am for this.  I appreciate this.  I had to have this.  If you're an alcoholic like me, I feel sorry for you but if I have to take a tag, it would be chronic alcoholic."

John said he attends several meetings each week and that he always will.  "I get there early to put the coffee pot on," he said. "That's my service."

In closing, he said, "I love recovery.  I love being sober."

A reception was held immediately following the commencement ceremony for the graduates and their family or friends.