The West Boylston-Boylston Banner
By Michael Kane
When students sit down to lunch at Boylston Elementary School later this summer, gone will be the eggshell-colored walls they are used to. Instead, they will be greeted with bright new colors, including purple.
Last week, painters from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department Community Service Program spent a week at the school, repainting and repairing cafeteria walls, kitchen walls and portions of some hallways.
More importantly, it is step one in what Principal Paul Goodhind hopes is a complete repainting of the school over the next three to five years. The idea, he said, came from Berlin Memorial School Principal Carol Bradley.
“Carol had her entire school done over the past five years,” Goodhind said. “When I heard that, I said ‘I’ve got to get them here.’ This school really needs a lot of painting.”
Goodhind allocated $1,000 this year, some of which was used for spackle to repair damaged walls. A majority went toward paint.
“The cafeteria workers chose the colors,” he said. “The kids are going to love it.”
The program has been offered for decades, noted Kimberly Roy, director of community programs for the Sheriff’s office. But, the program has tripled the amount of work completed in the past since Lewis Evangelidis was elected less than two years ago, she said.
Communities that request the workers pay for supplies. The labor is free. Overall, Roy said, communities and non-profit organizations throughout Worcester County have saved an estimated $2.2 million in labor costs since Evangelidis became sheriff.
“Fifty towns within the county have taken advantage of this program (since Evangelidis was elected),” Roy said. “The program runs year-long.”
That includes work at the Criminal Justice Training Council space and town offices in Boylston Town Hall, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, and Tahanto. The labor savings were estimated at around $22,000, not including recent work, like Boylston Elementary and a return to Tower Hill.
In West Boylston, the program has been used by Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, the American Legion and the West Boylston Housing Authority. In addition, according to town documents, work for the Parks Commission is scheduled for later this summer.
Roy said the program is for non-violent, non-sex offenders, who are nearing the end of their term.
“The program is very restrictive,” she said. “They have to work their way into it.”
The program has traditionally been used to readapt prisoners to work situations and to teach usable skills prior to release.
Goodhind said more painting would have been done in Boylston Elementary School this year, had he had the budget. Next year, he has asked for an additional $1,000.
“I’m hoping we can get the entire building done in three years,” he said. “I am going to try to get these guys to commit to that. They do good work. I’m so psyched they are doing this and can’t wait for the kids to get back.”