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Inmates help South Deerfield firehouse, themselves

An inmate in the Community Work Program at the Franklin County Jail paints the interior of the South Deerfield Fire Station on Monday.  Recorder/Paul Franz

An inmate in the Community Work Program at the Franklin County Jail paints the interior of the South Deerfield Fire Station on Monday. Recorder/Paul Franz

SOUTH DEERFIELD — For the first time in 24 years, the fire station in South Deerfield is getting a makeover for less than half the money it would have cost taxpayers. It is all due to the work of five men who have come for six hours each day for three weeks to paint the four large walls, leaving them gleaming.

The crew is part of the Community Service Program at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, in which pre-release inmates provide services and labor to communities to improve public grounds and buildings at little or no expense to taxpayers.

“It’s important. It gives these guys a skill and helps the community,” said Deputy Sheriff Thomas Culver. “We can go to the 26 communities in Franklin County and do work.”

Other community service projects include interior and exterior renovation, painting, snow removal and landscape maintenance.

While the inmates provide the labor, the municipalities provide the materials. This way, Deerfield only has to pay $3,000 for the epoxy paint and saves between $7,000 and $10,000 in labor.

Two years ago, inmates in the community service program also painted the office area of the fire station, so Deputy Fire Chief Dennis Patterson applied for the sheriff’s program again.

“It’s great for the community,” Patterson said.

There are about 18 men in the work program and they are split among two community service crews and one ground maintenance crew.

“It’s great. It gives us an opportunity to get out of the building and help out the community,” said a 56-year-old inmate, who declined to give his name. “It gives me the opportunity for hands-on things I haven’t done in the past.”

The man, who has 20 months left of his sentence, said the program is extremely helpful in the transition from jail. The goal of the program is to help inmates work toward their release. Many stay at the Kimball House on the jail property on Elm Street which houses inmates who are ready to re-enter society.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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