Police & Courts

Five graduate from Adams County Drug Court

Kelle Neese, left, is congratulated by loved ones after her graduation ceremony from Adams County Drug Court on Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019. Neese was the 107th person to graduate from Adams County Drug Court within the 23 years that it has been active. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 12, 2019 7:00 am Updated: Apr. 12, 2019 7:16 am

QUINCY -- Sid Ballenger was sentenced to Drug Court in Adams County for theft. He was stealing to feed his addiction.

"I was tired. I had recently had two ODs and was getting high on whatever it took to forget," Ballenger said. "Every time I shot up, I wanted to die. I had no self-worth left in me."

Clean for 892 days, Ballenger now works to help others in the program, as well as other addicts.

"Today with the power and help of others, I can help other addicts with my story," he said. "I'm proof that no matter what, we do recover."

Ballenger was one of five people to graduate from the Drug Court program on Thursday in a packed Adams County courtroom. Launched in 2006, 107 people have graduated from the program.

An intense form of probation, the problem-solving court requires those accepted to submit to frequent drug testing, court appearances as often as weekly, substance abuse treatment and various other classes.

Josh Knuffman noted that after his 2017 arrest, he was in the Adams County Jail where he couldn't see his infant daughter. He also was looking at a 10-year prison sentence, and he was scared that he would miss out on her childhood.

"I have sole custody of my daughter and a place to call our own home," Knuffman said. "I have a great family who now believes in me and is proud of me. If you are new in this program, keep doing what is required of you and apply yourself. Your day will come."

Andrew DeLonjay said that until two years ago, his life story was filled with arrests, jail time and addiction.

"For the first time in my life, I feel content and I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be," DeLonjay said.

Kelle Neese said that Drug Court is a life-saving program.

"I love my new-found life," she said. "In addition to having my family back in my life, I also have my recovery family."

Nathan Craig thanked the Drug Court team for its dedication.

"They're good at what they do, and the program is a blessing to the lives of individuals involved," Craig said.

Presiding over Drug Court for four years, Judge Debra Wellborn said she continues seeing people brought to court on drug charges and other charges from trying to feed their addiction.

Speaking about the five graduates, Wellborn said they seemed to know early on that they would successfully complete the program.

"You are one of the most humble and generous groups of people that I have come across in a long time," she said. "In so many varied ways, you have been here to support your families, each other and community programs. I'm not sure that some of you even know how to say no when genuine help is needed."

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