Drug court coordinator retires after 13 years
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Retiring Clallam County Drug Court coordinator Preston Kayes, second from left, and his wife, Julie Ewing, left, share a moment of levity after Kayes was recognized for his service to the county by the Clallam County commissioners Tuesday in Port Angeles. Accompanying Kayes were, from front center, Clallam County Superior Court Judges George Woods and Brooke Taylor and Superior Court Commissioner Brent Basden.
By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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It turned out to be a calling.
“This has been anything but a job for me over the last 13 years,” Kayes said before county commissioners presented him with a certificate of appreciation on Tuesday.
Kayes, who turns 65 this week, is retiring Friday.
He has spent the last month training his successor: 48-year-old Kevin Crittenden, a former probation counselor at the Clallam County Family and Juvenile Services Facility.
Drug courts are diversion programs aimed at reducing recidivism by helping non-violent offenders break the cycle of addition.
The program gives misdemeanor offenders a chance to avoid charges by staying sober for at least a year with monitored treatment and court supervision.
“This is a time of a lot of mixed emotions for me,” said Kayes, who described the job and the community as the “perfect fit for Julie and I.”
Kayes and his wife plan to remain in the Sequim area and travel in a recreational vehicle.
“I'm excited about this next phase in my life,” Kayes said.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge George L. Wood said Kayes leaves behind a well-established program.
“Preston Kayes stepped onto the scene like a white knight in armor in 1999, and for his leadership our juvenile and adult drug courts quickly became models for the state,” Wood said.
“Through Preston's guidance, solid teams were developed that oversaw the drug courts and monitored the participants in the drug court and we began to see, very quickly, success stories.
“Since he's been here, we've seen success after success.”
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Ken Williams, who is also retiring this year, was the impetus behind the formation of the Clallam County juvenile drug court in 1997 and the adult drug court in 1999.
Kayes said he has enjoyed working with the judges, attorneys and other drug court team members in “treating the problem rather than our continuing to punish the symptoms of the problem, which we've been doing since 1914.”
“It just has not worked,” Kayes said.
At first, county officials were skeptical of drug courts.
“They were kind of a new concept, totally unique to the judicial process itself,” Wood said.
“Its ultimate goal was not advocacy. It wasn't punishment. It was preventive through healing.”
“Everyone who was involved in the drug court program had to adjust to different roles,” Wood added.
“Needless to say, there were some growing pains in the very beginning of the program. In fact, there were, at times, questions about whether or not it was going to work.”
But Kayes proved it did work, Wood said.
Since 1999, 247 adults have graduated from Clallam County drug court, or nearly half of the 572 who have entered the program.
“Preston has been a major reason why it's worked so well in our county,” Wood said.
“He will be missed, but he leaves behind an established program that I know will continue to be successful.”
Commissioner Mike Doherty said Kayes “helped design our drug court so that it was a model program, and because of that the state gave us more than our share of financial assistance.”
Doherty said the drug courts have “helped turn literally hundreds of lives around,” kept families together and led to education and employment opportunities for graduates.
Kayes thanked the Board of County Commissioners, county administrators and the community for supporting the program.
“This is one area at a time of great polarization where everybody seems to be able to come together, whether on the far right, the far left and everything in between, because it just plain makes sense and it works,” Kayes said.
“It's just been an absolute joy for me to be able to do this.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: August 15. 2012 6:04PM