Rod Weaver says there is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone who has followed the wrong path for many years find his way to the right path.
“I’m grateful that I have gotten to see so many people turn their lives around,” Weaver said Monday as dozens of people gathered at the Whitfield County Courthouse to celebrate his retirement after 30 years with the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Weaver spent the first 26 years of his career with the Dalton Probation Office before becoming administrator of the Northwest Day Reporting Center in Dalton four years ago.
The non-residential program targets “low- to moderate-risk” offenders in Whitfield and Murray counties and allows them to stay with their families. It includes intense supervision, counseling and other training as well as drug testing. It is one of just 15 such centers across Georgia.
“The state is trying to bring this model to other places,” said Superior Court Judge David Blevins. “They see the value in it. I think it will work for them, but they’ll have a hard time duplicating the success we have had here because they can’t duplicate Rod Weaver.”
Weaver said he was led into probation work because he wanted to help others.
Tom Pinson, director of the Mack Gaston Community Center in Dalton, grew up with Weaver and said he was always a person “willing to take charge and do what needs to be done.”
“I expected him to be a preacher, and he is that, too,” Pinson said. “But I think this profession gives him the opportunity to help people out. He is always looking out for others.”
Weaver said his “basic premise both personally and professionally” is very simple: The Golden Rule.
“Treat others — co-workers, family members, friends and probationers — the way I want to be treated,” Weaver said. “I’ve tried to walk this journey and with my head held upright with dignity and with integrity.”
Friends and co-workers say Weaver treats everyone he comes into contact with with compassion and respect. But that doesn’t mean he is soft, they added.
“He doesn’t play,” said Amanda Chambers. “He’s an administrator, but he’s very hands on. He has a real human touch. The probationers he works with know he wants them to succeed. He’ll do whatever he can as long as they make an effort. But they also know there are lines and that if they cross those lines there will be consequences.”
Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said few people have made as large an impact on Whitfield and Murray counties as Weaver. He said Weaver’s work has not only changed the lives of many of the probationers he has worked with but the people around them.
Weaver is the pastor of Alexander Chapel United Methodist Church and writes a monthly column on religion for The Daily Citizen. He said he plans to remain active in the community and possibly do contract work in the field of probation and rehabilitation.