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February 24, 2020

1/27/2020 10:47:00 AM
Merrill earns Iowa County Drug Court certification
Honesty, sobriety, and attendance are key factors in a drug court graduate's success. By adhering to these three things, Iowa County has another drug court graduate.
Jamie Merrill of Dodgeville is the eighth graduate to have completed the Iowa County Drug Court Program on Thursday January 16 in front of her many supporters.
When Merrill took the stand, Iowa County Judge Margaret Kohler informed her that she completed the program in the fastest time. She was in the program for 420 days.
When asked what drug court meant to her, Merrill said, "It helped me figure out how to sort through the mess I made on my life, how to deal with cravings and get myself back on track."
Merrill has been sober since December 15 of 2018.
When it came to staying sober Merrill said to guests and Judge Koehler, "I was thinking about how miserable I was. Right before I got clean, I remember just sitting in a place that I have been staying, crying out wanting to get help but not knowing how to put it down."
"Jamie, you are remarkable. You are many things," Judge Koehler said to her. "You are a leader, an inspiration to all of us, a real organizer, a true friend, a fighter, a winner, an achiever and most importantly, you are sober. We are very proud of you."
The next person to speak was Sonja Jansen, Merrill's probation officer.
"I remember December 15, seeing you in jail on the bench, and I've never felt such despair from another person," Jansen said. "December 20 of 2018 you walked out of jail and you went and got help. You came back and you came back strong. You described your former life as hopeless and homeless, and the only future you had was jail or death. The only thing you had to change was everything, and you did."
"Iowa County is lucky to have you," Jansen added. "You're a blessing to everyone in the audience and you are a blessing to all the members of this team. My wish for you is that going forward, you just keep on keeping on, one day at a time because you're making your miracle and I'm so proud to be your agent."
The next person to speak was Melissa Peterson, Iowa County's Drug Treatment Court Coordinator.
"I'll never forget the first time that I met you. You came into my office, looked right at me and said 'I think at this point in my life, death would be a blessing,'" Melissa said. "I just knew how much that meant that you wanted out. When you came back from Hope Haven you were a completely different person, and had a completely different outlook on life. And I don't think you've looked back ever since."
Melissa added, "We want you to come back anytime you want to. We hope to see you often. And I just want you to keep doing what you're doing because like somebody else said you truly are a miracle."
"One of the things that I noticed about you and a couple other people in treatment court right now is that you are 100% committed and fiercely protective of your recovery," Jesse Brogley, Drug Treatment Court provider said to Merrill. "You guys have somehow miraculously found a way to keep it all strung together, not giving in to that temptation. I hope you keep coming back. And I hope you continue to give back to our future drug court clients. I'm proud of you, keep dreaming big and working hard."
"Jamie, the transformation is startling from the photo we see up there, and it's truly amazing," said Public Defender Jeff Erickson. "You obviously had it within you all along, and something in you allowed you to unlock it. You've been able to recover your humanity and reconnect with people in your life and it's heartening to all of us. We're extremely proud of you."
"Jamie, I want to congratulate the remarkable transformation you've undertaken over the course of the past 14 months," District Attorney Matt Allen said. "I want to thank you for all the support that you've provided to your fellow participants. I know it means a lot to them, and it means a lot to us as a team. I just want to encourage you to keep doing what you're doing because it's obviously working. I look forward to seeing you in the community."
"Jamie, we're here today." Iowa County Sheriff's Liaison Mike Peterson said. "From the first time, to the time that you're in the back of my squad and we were getting ready to go to treatment. If we all look back now and you just realized that those days of rock bottom are just building the foundation for the rest of your life. Keep on moving forward and we'll see you around."
Before receiving her signed certificate Merrill introduced her family and friends, and were invited to a reception in her honor.

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