Inmates work to weatherize schools while students are out for holidays

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

Inmates from Rowan Correctional Center worked to weatherize mobile classrooms at West Middle and Rockwell Elementary schools Wednesday.

According to Sgt. Tim Siscle of the Correctional Center, the school weatherization program started last year as a joint effort between the Department of Corrections and Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse Store.

Lowe’s committed $100,000 last year to help buy materials for the project. Some of that funding was left over, making more work possible this year, Siscle said.

Inmates worked at Rockwell Elementary to put underpinning around four of the school’s mobile units. Another crew did the same work at West Middle earlier in the day.

Crews have worked at Overton and will move on to Knox Middle today.

Administrators with Rowan-Salisbury Schools report their needs to the Department of Corrections and the school system’s maintenance department provides all tools and materials.

“As long as they provide equipment and tools, inmates do the labor on a cost-free basis,” Siscle said.

The window of opportunity is very small for inmates to come out to do weatherization work at schools, according to Siscle. The inmates are only allowed to work when children aren’t in school.

Siscle said two of his officers supervising Wednesday’s projects gave up their vacation to allow the inmates to complete the work during winter break.

Inmates who work on the school weatherization project are part of the Community Work Program.

“Any of the local government agencies are eligible to request inmate labor,” including the landfill, community parks and townships, Siscle said.

Officer Steve Reeves, who was supervising the Rockwell Elementary crew, said they did painting last week at the National Guard and sometimes wash ambulances.

Next week, inmates in the Community Work Program will be cleaning up Tar Branch, Siscle said.

Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or