Sheffield Township will soon be a cleaner, brighter and more accessible place, thanks to some unlikely help: Prison inmates.
Two agreements with regional corrections facilities will provide the means for the township to complete some ongoing upkeep projects.
The first agreement, with Federal Corrections Institute McKean, located between Bradford and Kane, is already underway. Through the agreement, the township furnished materials for three picnic tables to be placed near the concessions stand at Memorial Field. Raw materials for the tables were delivered in early August and prison inmates are working towards building the tables. The township supervisors expect to receive the completed tables in time for Sheffield Area High School's first home football game in September.
"Our concessions stand area was in need of some picnic tables for people to sit down and eat," said Supervisor John Labesky, who helped organize the agreements.
The second agreement deals with cleaning and painting at township facilities. The township's concession stand will be cleaned and painted. Painting work at the township boat launch and tennis courts will be performed under the agreement as well. The township will provide materials, while State Correctional Institute Forest will provide inmate labor on the project.
According to an e-mail from Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Press Secretary Susan McNaughton, "The DOC's (Department of Corrections) Community Work Program has been in existence since 1995. Our facilities are pleased to be able to provide non-profit organizations with inmate labor. We realize that, for some, they would not be able to afford to complete a project without the help of these crews. The inmates on these crews are low-security inmates who have been carefully screened to participate, and these projects give them an opportunity to give back to society. Non-profit organizations and other state agencies have saved millions of dollars through the use of these crews since 1995."
"Both projects will save the township time and money," Labesky said. "Plus, it will give the inmates something productive in society to do and give them a chance to give back."