RSAT graduates Joshua Gower, Randy Venable and Benjamin Thomas are shown here at the graduation ceremony with Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown.

COVINGTON — The Newton County Sheriff’s Office recently graduated three participants from its ninth Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) program in a small ceremony held inside the courtroom of the Newton County Detention Center.

The Sheriff’s Office changed how it conducted the ninth RSAT graduation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of a room filled with family and friends, the graduates were met with the staff who provided them with the tools required to succeed in life. The staff in attendance was kept to the required minimum.

Social distancing was practiced and masks were worn during the ceremony.

Sheriff Ezell Brown recognized the graduates’ accomplishments in a short speech before handing out the diplomas with little contact.

“We are proud of all three of you gentleman for everything you’ve accomplished in this program. Moving forward, we expect for you to take what you’ve learned here and use it to succeed in the next chapter of your life,” said Brown. “This program would not be possible without our partners, staff, judges, District Attorney’s Office, and the Superior Court. Even though they could not be here today due to these unprecedented times, they are the reason why we keep doing this program. Without their support, this program would not be successful.”

Newton County was the third county to offer the RSAT program in the metro Atlanta area beginning in 2018. Gwinnett and Rockdale counties also offer the program.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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