Program Brightens Buildings, Futures

paint
Ricardo, left, and Robert paint the interior of the Butterick Municipal Building
 as part of Sheriff Lew Evangelidis’ Community Outreach Program.
 Patricia Roy photo

 

 

Inmates Help Revitalize Sterling Mainstay
By Patricia Roy

 

 

For the first time in 23 years, the interior of the Butterick Municipal Building got a much needed sprucing up, courtesy of Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis’ Community Service Program.

 

Inmates from the Worcester County Jail & House of Corrections provided the manpower for the work, with the town contributing materials and lunch for the work crew.

 

The inmates are low-risk, non-violent offenders, Evangelidis said, and they have to earn their way into the program through good behavior.

 

“We’re very proud of this program,” he said. “We have saved communities over $4 million and it is a positive program for the inmates, too.”

 

On any given week, the program has four work crews out in Worcester County, with five inmates on each crew. They are overseen by a corrections officer, in this instance, Officer Mike Mastrotorio who describes the program as a positive experience.

 

“You can see the difference it makes for the inmates as much as for the places where they work,” he said.

 

Town Administrator Jeffrey Ritter estimated that the town was saving $30,000 on the paint job that covered all three floors of the Butterick Building, including the Senior Center.

 

If not for the inmate services program, refurbishing the building probably would not have happened at all, Ritter said.

 

When it comes to town buildings, most money in the town budget has to go for upkeep such as roofs and boilers and less crucial items, including interior painting, get put aside.

 

Community service crews have worked on 18 different projects in town since 2011, doing everything from painting the fire department, light department, the 1835 Town Hall and Historical Society Building to landscaping the Department of Public Works.

 

The Community Services program has saved the town more than $89,000.

 

Town facilities manager Tom Rutherford couldn’t be happier with the job quality. “They’re doing fine work,” he said. “They clearly have painting skills and light carpentry skills.”

 

One crew member, Robert, is an experienced roofer and house painter. Just two months from his release date, he said he liked being part of the program and it meshed with his plan to return to roofing.

 

Crew member Ricardo, who will return to being an automotive mechanic, said he enjoyed getting out into the community.

 

“It keeps the day going,” he said.

 

The program also provides the inmates a chance to bank some money that will be available to them when their sentence is over. They also get to take with them a recent work history and, program supporters hope, a way back into the working world.

 

Evangelidis related the story of a 25 year old inmate and former gang member who before participating in the program had never held a job.

 

“He told me he looked forward to the officer coming to get him to go to work each morning. It is the ultimate win-win,” he said.