By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
WELCH, W.Va. – Last Thursday marked a milestone in the lives of two local men who successfully completed their programs through the McDowell County Adult Drug Court.
Jacob Farmer and William “Coty” Long graduated from the program before family, friends and county officials involved in the program in the Courtroom of the Honorable Judge Edward Kornish.
“We all have problems that we have to deal with. The first step is recognizing that we have a problem and owning it. The second step is taking action to do something about it. One of the hardest things is to acknowledge that we have issues that we need help dealing with. Often times, when we have a problem, we believe we’re the only one, but that’s not true. We all have problems,” said Judge Edward Kornish.
“This is a graduation and a recognition of hard work that they put in. It’s not easy. We’ve given them some tools, supported them, and occasionally kicked them in the butt. But they have done the work and are making themselves better lives. I have concerns when we have graduation. One of the things that helps us get straight is that structure and support. Once they graduate, it’s kind of like kicking the little bird out of the nest and hoping they can stay afloat,” continued Kornish.
“These two guys are in such a good position. I have the highest hope and confidence that they will continue and set an example for all of us on how to deal with problems and be better people. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else.”
Kornish said he had come to consider the two family during their time together, describing Farmer as a man of few words while Long’s articulate speaking earned him the nickname “Professor”.
“I would just like to say thank you all for giving us chances. Just because this is graduation, it doesn’t mean that everything is going to be great and go smooth. Life is always going to bring problems and choices. I’ve learned different ways to deal with that instead of blame, guilt, or different criminal thinking errors I had. I made excuses for lots of things,” said Farmer.
Trusting in your higher power and building that relationship every day while surrounding yourself with supportive people were two things Farmer credited to his success in the program.
“Don’t look at it as I can’t wait to get this program over with, just slow down and work on you. Don’t think of it as a program, you’ve been blessed with another day to live. I should have been dead a million times over, but I’m still here. I’m doing what I can with that and he’s been blessing me abundantly. My cup runneth over and I thank you all,” said Farmer.
Long’s time in the program had made him reexamine his life with a new perspective built on a foundation of gratitude.
“I’m grateful to God for waking me up this morning and giving me another day on this earth. I’m also equally grateful for this program because it’s given me a lot of opportunities, same as I’ve been given all my life,” said Long. “But for a long time, I had a sense of entitlement, like I was owed those things. Like I deserved it without putting any work in to get that. I felt like I was entitled to have the opportunity to be in this program and I took advantage of that for a long time. I wasn’t grateful for that.”
The man he is today acknowledged that is was actually a privilege to be in the Adult Drug Court program, compared to the man entering the program full of resentment.
“You guys kept me out of jail and I wasn’t thinking about it like that in the beginning. I resented having to get up to catch the bus to community service. I didn’t look at it the right way, I took it for granted,” said Long. “Gratitude is an action word so I have to show it by the way I live. I can’t even say I was going back to old behaviors at that point because I never stopped them. Those same old behaviors are what got me there in the first place. So something had to change and I just thank God that the people in this program didn’t give up on me when I made the decision to give up on myself.”
Instead, Long said he was only given opportunities to better himself in the program, helping him deal with old patterns and behaviors.
“I know now today, my decision making can’t be based on impulse. That’s an issue I had for a long time. I wanted to go off that first reaction, that first thought instead of thinking things through. There are consequences to every action, good and bad. Today, I understand that if I make good actions, I’ll have good consequences and good results. I keep that in my mind and I try to now live in a way that I am less self-centered. I am less focused on what I can do for myself and more focused on what I can do for others.”
Now having graduated, Long seeks to help others deal with their own struggles by sharing his own experience with both struggles and success.
Attorney Marcia Hebb, who represented both Farmer and Long, was also in attendance at Thursday’s graduation ceremony.
“Jacob, Coty, when I started this program with you, after awhile I became very surprised with how invested I became in your lives. I did not expect that to happen to me. That’s why I would get so mad when you messed up. I think it is important to know that the ups and downs you have in life don’t just affect you. They affect other people too. Your successes also affect all of us here. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a success and becoming the men you are today. Who you really were all along,” said Hebb.
An adult drug court is a specially designed court program. The purpose is to achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among offenders and to increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation through early, continuous, and intense treatment; mandatory periodic drug testing; community supervision; appropriate sanctions and incentives; and other rehabilitation services, all of which is supervised by a judicial officer.