With May having been National Drug Court Month, the Hempstead/Nevada Drug Court Program has been busy with several projects celebrating the event.

With May having been National Drug Court Month, the Hempstead/Nevada Drug Court Program has been busy with several projects celebrating the event. The events began with the Hope City Board of Directors declaring May as National Drug Court Month via proclamation. The proclamation was read by City Attorney Joe Short, and presented by Vice Mayor Steve Montgomery. Arlice Pettit accepted the proclamation from Montgomery.

The Drug Court had a pig roast at Sandy Martin’s farm to commemorate National Drug Court month. This was an all day event with children’s activities including a jump house. They joined the community in celebrating Train Day by setting up at the event’s Farmers’ Market.

They finished the Drug Court Month celebration by participating in their annual “give back” to the community. While Drug Court does help out with many projects in the community, the “give back” is special. They chose the Patmos Mayfest. The purpose of the festival was a fundraiser to move the old train depot to Patmos Park. The event was held at Patmos Park. Drug Court set up their organic produce booth and all proceeds were donated back to the Mayfest committee to help with the costs of relocating the depot.

Teresa Pribilski, Drug Court Counselor, was also recently named the 2014 Drug Court Treatment Staff of the Year by the Arkansas Drug Court Professional Association.

“I have to give credit where credit is due,” Pribilski said. “This is not an award one wins in a vacuum. I have a great supportive team from my Area Manager Amanda Clift-Jordan, Assistant Area Manager Joe Kuhn, Officer Hainen and Ms. Hundley, Administrative Specialist. There is also Judge Culpepper and the Prosecutor’s Office along with Hope PD. I can’t forget the clients without their buy into as they call it 'Ms. Teresa’s special projects', these would just remain ideas. The clients have put in a lot of effort to make me look good.”

According to Area Manager Amanda Clift-Jordan, “the Hope Drug Court program has received statewide recognition for the work on the farm and the local Farmer's Markets.

“The positive influence on, not only the clients, but the community has been recognized by the other Drug Courts in the state and many have started coming up with similar programs,” Jordan said. “We all thought the farming project might last for a month or two, but it has really taken off and exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Sandra Hundley was nominated for Administrative Specialist of the year at the same conference. The program was awarded a $4,500 grant through the Administrative Offices of the Court in Arkansas, via Kari Powers, to enhance the program's efforts at the Farmers’ Markets. They are also hoping for a grant through ArCOP (Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention) to help in expenses to expand and enhance Hope’s Farmers’ Market. For this grant, they have teamed up with the Hometown Health Initiative Coalition as well as representatives of the Hope’s Farmers’ Market.

While they still go to the farm regularly, they now sell out of four different Farmers’ Markets – Hope, Old Washington, Nashville, and Texarkana. The application has been sent to have the farm certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as organic.

According to Officer Randal Hainen, they should know this month if the farm will be certified.

“This is a big step,” Hainen stated. “With this type of certification, it can open many doors. The long term plan is to keep the farm a sustainable project for the clients and the community.”

Sandy Martin has been heavily involved with the farm, because she owns the land that has produced much of the produce that the clients sell.

“When I volunteered to do this, it was a calling, really,” Martin said recently. “I had a dream when I lived in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. I dreamed I needed to start a rehabilitation program. I've been cooking since I was 11, when my sister became sick with leukemia. I cooked for my brother, my daddy, and myself. Where there's food, there's people. I've always had a love for cooking and helping people out. This farm thing doesn't happen overnight. I know God's going to do it, I'm just a player.”

According to Martin, the group has planted red potatoes, white potatoes, cantaloupe, two kinds of purple hull peas, black crowder peas, zipper cream peas, English peas, pinto beans, green beans, speckled butter beans, white butter beans, and five kinds of squash, including zucchini, yellow crookneck, Hubbard squash, butternut, and cushall squash.”

“We have also planted 1,800 sweet potato plants, peanuts, various kinds of watermelon, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, strawberries, kale, onions, corn, and sunflowers,” Martin said.

The program is always happy to receive any type of donations especially any farm equipment, used or newer, canning jars, plants, gardening tools, and tools in general. Martin and Pribilski rarely, if ever, turn down any donation, for which sometimes they are teased. They consider themselves “collectors.”