weather icon Partly Cloudy

Judge hopes to expand adult drug court program with grant

Nye County Fifth District Judge Kim Wanker meets with people from drug court every day as she travels to hear cases across the state’s largest county.

Every case is different but the common thread, Wanker said, is that those who end up in drug court often lack broader help, whether it be on a town, county or state level.

“The purpose behind drug court is to help people, it really is. People think that the courts are always punishment, but we are not. That isn’t what the courts are all about,” she said.

The Pahrump adult drug court program sees people from 18 to 65 years old. The 1-to-3 year program offers individual and group counseling. Graduates leave with a high school diploma or GED, a full-time job and driver’s license, Wanker said.

The slim-staffed adult drug court program in Nye County that is fed from other courts has become increasingly difficult to operate because of the lack of funding. The program runs in Pahrump and Tonopah and is being supported by a number of volunteers.

“We just have a lot of people (in drug court) and quite frankly, we have operated for the last year without a grant and so, that puts a lot of pressure you know, what the county finances are,” she added.

Recently, Wanker has been more optimistic after Nye County commissioners gave a go-ahead to the application for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant for the Fifth Judicial District Adult Drug Court Program in Pahrump.

The coveted grant would be disbursed in the amount of $325,000 annually over the next 3 years, which Wanker hopes would pay for drug testing and other costlycomponents of the program.

According to Nye County documents, the grant will fund the existing contract with WestCare for counseling the Pahrump drug court participants, drug court personnel salaries, benefits and mandatory educational conferences.

With the help of the grant, Wanker wants to expand the existing resources and provide more supplies and counseling. She also hopes to hire two part-time court facilitators.

“We want to stop criminal behavior, stop this revolving door and rehabilitate people. Make them productive members of society. That’s our goal,” she said.

The deadline for the grant is April 4 but Wanker and her team won’t know until September whether they got it, as they have to compete with drug courts from across the country.

Nevada’s specialty courts created new opportunities for drug courts in rural parts of the state such as those in Nye County thanks to a $3 million funding that was provided by the 2015 Legislature.

Just last week, three people graduated from the adult drug court program. Wanker said many later come back to thank her.

In her office, Wanker has a picture from a program graduate.

“That’s one of my favorite pictures because the detail in that guy’s face is phenomenal,” she said pointing at the oil painting of a Native American man. “I get some really really talented people in drug court.”

Wanker often communicates with adult drug court program graduates. She said there are many success stories as those who have gone through the program stayed clean, found full-time jobs and were able to give back to the community.

“For me, it’s exciting to see the people change,” she said.

“We want to stop criminal behavior, stop this revolving door and rehabilitate people,” she added. “Make them productive members of society. That’s our goal.”

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Development of Pahrump’s Kellogg Park tracking right along

Development of Pahrump’s newest park, Kellogg Park on the southern end of the valley, continues to move along steadily, with a variety of milestones reached in recent months and officials with the town of Pahrump and Nye County now setting their sights on the next steps of the development process.

PLAC to decide on Rough Hat recommendations; meeting Nov. 30 in Pahrump

Throughout its many years, the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee hasn’t seen a whole lot of community involvement, with the group historically hosting its monthly meetings amid almost empty audiences.

Together With Veterans hosting SWOT assessment meeting in Pahrump

The men and women who have served in the United States military have given of themselves, made sacrifices on a daily basis and put the safety of others before themselves in order to protect America but when service comes to an end and they return to civilian life, the transition can be jarring.

Beatty Advisory Board deals with trails, racing, blue light

There will be no informal election to choose appointees to the Beatty Town Advisory Board. Randy Reed and Erika Gerling, whose terms expire at the end of the year, were the only people to submit letters of interest, so the Board voted, at their Nov. 22 meeting, to forward their names to the Board of County Commissioners for reappointment.

Pahrump Powwow showcases Native American culture

November is National Native American Heritage Month and there could be no better time in which to celebrate the vibrant culture of the country’s many Native American tribes.

Nye County commissioners push back on COVID, again

Like an array of other issues and topics, COVID-19 has proven to be a subject which serves as yet another wedge between an already divided America and in many cases, it’s pitting local, state and federal governments against one another in a bid to decide what is best for the communities they serve.

Pahrump businesswoman facing embezzlement charge

It appears that the COVID-19 outbreak in a roundabout way has led to the arrest of a Pahrump woman on an alleged embezzlement charge.

Community Christmas Tree Lighting set for Saturday in Pahrump

With Thanksgiving taking place tomorrow and Christmas coming right on its heels just one month later, that means it is time for many to start turning their attention to the most wonderful time of the year. In the Pahrump Valley, the start of the Christmas season is one that is greeted with joyful delight but it wouldn’t feel quite complete without what has become a beloved local tradition, the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree.

Photos with Santa set for next two weekends in Pahrump

In a perfect world, the comfort and security of a warm, soft bed is something that all children would enjoy, but the unfortunate reality is that the world is not perfect.