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Local News

August 3, 2013

Judge: Young man's turnaround makes me 'very proud'

Unadilla native uses drug court to change life

As a 14-year-old given too much rope, Camden Palmeter didn’t have to look far for trouble.

It found him.

Raised by a single mother in Unadilla, he recalled, he said he could pretty much stay out and go to parties and bars. And even though he had little money, it wasn’t hard to find marijuana and alcohol.

“I just had connections,” Palmeter recalled.

He was a big kid with a strong frame, and while he lacked direction and discipline, he knew, even then, that he wanted to play sports.

He made the junior varsity football team at Unatego High School and soon transitioned to the varsity. But things weren’t working out all that well at home. He was having a hard time taking a liking to his mother’s boyfriend, he recalled. So he moved out of the house.

He was 14 or 15 years old.

The youth ended up taking a room in his grandmother’s home in Oneonta. He enrolled at Oneonta High School and began playing on the varsity football team at the age of 15. (A sports story from The Daily Star in 2004 noted he gained 58 yards for his team with three catches.) But he said he was again staying out as late as he wanted and became pals with people with bad habits.

“I was living the party lifestyle,” he said.

A teacher he considered his favorite told him it was doubtful he’d ever make it to college.

And so it came to pass that while he was in the 11th grade, he dropped out of school, giving him even more time to drift aimlessly on the streets, although he did find time to play sports.

When he was 18, he managed to get his General Education Diploma. But within the following year he suffered a significant setback: He was busted for marijuana possession, and was looking at the possibility of getting hit with a jail sentence. He caught a break, though, when he was put on probation. However, he said he ended up violating probation when he was cited by police for an open container violation. He spent a couple of weeks behind bars.

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