Elk County Branch announces first RDC graduate

Photo submitted — Graduate Shari Lynn Auman is flanked by members of the Regional Drug Court, including Elk County District Attorney Shawn McMahon, far left; Defense Attorney Gary A. Knaresboro, left center; RDC Judge John Leete; President Judge Richard Masson; RDC Coordinator Chris Konzel; and on the far right, Chief Probation Officer Andrew Hathorn; along with staff members of the RDC.
Brian Stockman
Staff Writer

The Elk County Courthouse main courtroom was not a grim chamber Thursday. Instead of being filled with details of crimes and prison sentences, celebration and messages of hope filled the air as Shari Lynn Auman became the first graduate of the Elk County Branch of the Regional Drug Court.  
A ceremony was held Thursday afternoon, Sept. 6, with Potter County Senior Judge John Leete, who is also the RDC judge, presiding.
“We are going to celebrate our very first graduate Shari, she is ready to move on,” Leete said. “Should we use the word graduation? Because, on the road to sobriety, this is just a stop on the road.
“We celebrate this lady's accomplishments and are so thankful for all she has contributed, but this is just a stop on the road. Sobriety is a strange journey because it doesn’t have a specific destination,” he said. “You can’t say after two years or four years, ‘I’ve got this licked.’ Sobriety is a life-long journey. Addiction is the cruelest of habits; you really can’t defeat it, it’s still there in the distance.”
Leete presented Auman with a graduation certificate, saying, “It’s been quite a journey, one I hope you are going to continue. It has been a real pleasure to work with you. You have finished this program, and finished it so well.”
Participants in this program are sanctioned by the RDC Judge for noncompliance. Example sanctions include essay writing, increased supervision, additional community service, incarceration, and program termination. Chris Konzel, RDC Coordinator, and RDC Judge John Leete announced at the reception that the name of the Regional Drug Court will be changing to the Regional Treatment Court in the near future as the current name is limiting and does not convey the scope of the Court's mission, which includes alcohol treatment as well as post-traumatic stress treatment in its overall program.