Pubdate: Sat, 13 Nov 2010
Source: Altoona Mirror (PA)
Copyright: 2010 Altoona Mirror
Author: Phil Ray
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Court Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary Thursday Afternoon

HOLLIDAYSBURG - Wayne Weaver told a courtroom full of Blair County
Drug Court participants on Friday that for 30 years he didn't know
life held anything but drug addiction.

He didn't pay support for his children in Michigan.

"My priority was doing drugs," he said.

Weaver was one of several court graduates who addressed participants
as the county's drug court celebrated its 10th anniversary. He is one
of 186 addicts to graduate from the courts since its inception.

He eventually owed more than $60,000 for back child support, and the
state didn't stop pursuing him - even though his children were grown
and he had moved to Pennsylvania.

Weaver's life is now dramatically different.

He lives in Gettysburg. He is clean of drugs and has a job, and he has
repaid Michigan for supporting his children all those years.

He joked it was good to have a full paycheck after years of seeing
half of his wages go toward his onerous debt.

Weaver's message to about 50 participants in the Blair County Drug
Court was simple: "There's light at the end of the tunnel. Things are
good. God is great."

He advised the participants that if they want a life other than
addiction, "It's out there."

He told them to keep journals of their struggles - a drug court
mandate - and he said they should frequently read the journal.

"You can look back and see where you were. When you see where you
were, you can go ahead," Weaver said.

Drug Court graduate James Povich of Hollidaysburg, who is studying to
become a minister and who has a powerful voice and an intense
presence, said he, too, had a drug and alcohol addiction and a history
of dealing heroin.

Povich said his relationship with God began after spending time in
jail. It led to his admission that he had a problem, and he asked for

Before the admission, he said he was self-centered, dishonest,
resentful and afraid.

After drug court, he said, he was "more concerned with the needs of

The program is an alternative to lengthy prison sentences, President
Judge Jolene G. Kopriva said, noting that it has saved the county
56,343 prison days.

The drug court attempts to help those addicted to drugs, but it forces
addicts to look at themselves, keep a daily journal, seek treatment
and refocus their priorities, Kopriva said.

Those who are successful week in and week out receive

One young man graduated Friday and was given a certificate and a hug
by Kopriva.

Another man was applauded for his success in finding a job. Another
drug court participant was lauded for her work toward a GED diploma.
Another man was congratulated because he was starting to share his
feelings about his struggle in his daily journal.

But not every Drug Court participant was doing well.

One young woman was taken into custody.

"We do drug testing for a reason," Kopriva said. "You are using. You
owe us time in jail. ... Get honest with yourself."

Four other participants were already in orange Blair County Prison
jumpsuits, having experienced relapses during the last two weeks. They
will remain behind bars until new drug treatment plans can be drawn up
by the county's parole and probation staff.

"There is hope. You have to work," Kopriva said. "Drug court is a
vehicle that moves forward. ... You have to drive the vehicle."
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