Whitesburg KY

County supports drug court plan

The Letcher Fiscal Court voted unanimously this week to approve a resolution supporting the expansion of Letcher County Drug Court.

The resolution supporting the funding needed for the expansion was read by Letcher County Attorney Jamie Hatton, who said the county’s drug court is one of the most successful in the state with 51 participants who have completed a two-year minimum in the program.

Hatton also cited the state average figure of 57 percent overall on twoyear repeat felony crimes against the repeat rate of Letcher County Drug Court participants of nine percent on misdemeanors and zero percent on felonies. On average, Kentucky drug court participants have a repeat crime rate of 20.2 percent. Hatton added that 13 drug free babies have been born by mothers participating in drug court and that fewer babies who have been exposed to narcotics in the womb because their mother used drugs are being born in the county due to the drug court program. The court voted unanimously to support the resolution in support of the grant.

Letcher County Circuit Judge Sam Wright, who was instrumental in developing the Letcher County Drug Court and remains one of its most enthusiastic supporters, came in as Hatton was reading the resolution and told the court he wants to expand the program by offering a separate drug court to veterans as part of the overall program. Wright said the drug court has already experienced success by separating the more hardcore drug users from less heavily addicted ones, and the trauma veterans have experienced in war will make it advantageous to allow them to have a separate program within the larger umbrella of the drug court.

“This is one of the greatest things I have gotten to do,” said Wright. “It’s thrilling to see the progress they make. It’s a problem that touches everybody in the county”

Wright told the court the minimum time for participating in drug court is two years and that some stay in for as long as five years. He said he would like to do more with the court and that the grant should allow for a significant expansion of the program. He added that he believes that Kentucky leads the nation in drug courts and that expanding to treat veterans will give Letcher County an opportunity to work with the Veterans Administration in treating addiction among veterans. Wright said he has tried to get people to help him identify veterans who can be helped by the drug court and that he becomes attached to the participants as they progress through their treatment.

“You get close to the people,” said Wright. “You go through it day by day and you get to know them. They aren’t bad people, it’s just that they have gone astray, and we want to save them.”

The court also issued a proclamation in praise of all the county workers who gave so much of themselves during the recent weather emergency. Judge/Executive Jim Ward said that everyone, and particularly workers in the road department, went “above and beyond,” and worked long hours in dangerous condition in inclement weather. He said everyone owes the workers a debt of gratitude and the county should be very proud of their dedication to their jobs and to the safety of the citizens.

Ward said there have been a lot of slides and that there are still more slips that need to be addressed before they cause a slide as well. He said that all the county’s expenses will be presented to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in hope that the county can be reimbursed for some of the expenses and that the county had met and exceeded its threshold of $87,000 considerably in trying to keep citizens and their homes safe. Ward added that landowners who have suffered property damage from the weather should keep records to present to FEMA when it arrives.

Letcher County Jailer Don McCall presented the jail budget of $1,194,973 for Fiscal Year 2015-2016. Judge Ward praised McCall for his attention to detail in keeping costs down for the jail and added that McCall works with the county’s judges in an effort to allow for as many inmates to serve their time on “house arrest” as possible, which further saves the county money.

Ward told the court that no bids were presented for the smoke evacuation system for the courthouse and jail. He said he will contact the Kentucky Department of Corrections and inform it. County Attorney Hatton added that since no bids have been presented, the court can proceed with negotiating for the work. Ward said he would like to speak with at least three vendors before the court makes a decision.

During the Treasurer’s Report, County Treasurer Phillip Hampton reported that the end of March will mean that the court is in the last quarter of the fiscal year, which he called the most difficult financially. Ward replied that if the county gets reimbursed by FEMA, it will help a great deal because it has spent a signifi- cant amount that it doesn’t normally spend on clearing roads, replacing culverts, and fixing slides because of the weather damage.

Letcher County Tourism Chairman David Narramore told the court that Letcher County Central High School will present “Into the Woods,” a Steven Sondheim Broadway musical on March 27 and 28. Narramore said that very few high school drama programs attempt to do a full scale Broadway musical and that ticket information can be had by calling 633-2339.

Bank balances for county agencies as of March 1:

• General Fund $453,810.25

• Road and Bridge Fund $638,281.68

• Jail Fund $98,474.67

• LGEA Fund $401,870.82

• Senior Citizens Fund $274,155.93

• Forestry Fund $17,161.11

• Letcher County Public Courthouse Corp. Funded Depreciation Reserve Account $239,967.39

• Letcher County Public Courthouse Corp. Debt Service $64,028.46

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