May 10, 2016
BY JASON BLEAU
NEWS STAFF WRITER WEBSTER
Those passing through Perryville Road in Webster on Wednesday, April 13, may have noticed some work taking place on a bridge overlooking the Perryville Dam. During the early afternoon hours that particular bridge was the subject of the Worcester Country Sheriff Office’s most recent graffiti cleanup effort through a program launched in 2015 to serve the towns of Worcester County free of charge by removing graffiti from bridges, businesses and other town and private properties as needed. Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis said the addition of a graffiti removal apparatus and service to the region was sparked from his discussions with concerned residents and business owners in Worcester and the city’s extensive problems with graffiti on properties of all kinds. With Worcester being far from the only area of the region with such a problem, the sheriff decided to invest in providing the service for any town in his county. “A few years ago we noticed there was a huge increase and up tick in graffiti around the county, especially in Worcester. It was tagging a lot of private businesses as well as public buildings and we saw the community’s response,” said Evangelidis. “A lot of businesses didn’t have the money and the DPW was overwhelmed and there’s a public safety element when it comes to graffiti and tagging because it’s often gang and criminal related.” The sheriff described the issue using the “window pane syndrome” saying that it’s the kind of situation that can be resolved with constant upkeep and attention, but if left unattended for too long it can escalate out of control. The Perryville Road bridge in Webster is only the latest effort to remove graffiti from public domains and according to Officer Dan Joslyn, who was on site helping with the cleanup, it was a project requested to the sheriff’s office by the Webster Police. “One of the sergeants from the police department requested that we come down here and see if there’s something we could do about it,” Joslyn said. “Normally with stuff like this it goes unseen so it just keeps getting worse and worse. Kids will come down here and see it and think nobody cares, so they end up making more of a mess. A lot of towns try to keep that kind of activity to a minimum. People don’t like seeing this.” Josyln called the system “self-contained” with the cleanup requiring a single truck and the use of a sandblasting system that utilizes an all-natural mineral described as “hard and fine” in order to remove the paint. The extent of the process and how long it takes to remove the paint is dependent on the material it is being removed from and the type of paint used for the graffiti, but most materials are easily removed using the equipment available. Sheriff Evangelidis said he’s glad to see his new program really taking off and that he is proud communities are taking full advantage of it. He called it a worthy investment to help solve a small but growing issue in communities throughout his region. “It’s a public safety issue and it’s a beautification issue for the entire county,” he said. “The best thing of all is we do it for private and public properties and we try to get it done as quickly as possible. I think it’s just another benefit we can offer the people of Worcester County to make our community a better and safer place.”
May 2, 2016
Posted May. 1, 2016
MILFORD – Before Citizens for Milford and others hit the streets for Beautification Day Saturday, Worcester County inmates took care of some of the thornier sections of town.
As part of Sheriff Lew Evangelidis’ community service program, the inmates tackled the tough areas such as Dilla Street and Cedar Street. Working in teams on Thursday and Friday, they helped clear trash off a wide swath of the town.
“They did a great job yesterday and it looks great,” said Amie Sanborn, chairwoman of the Beautification Day subcommittee. “They help in that they do a lot of the streets that we deem too dangerous.”
The work is part of an overall initiative to get inmates out cleaning the community five days a week. Since taking office in 2011, Evangelidis has tripled the program, according to Kim Roy, his director of external affairs.
Since 2011, Roy estimates the program has completed about $6 million in the cost it would take to hire cleaning crews.
The prisoners that participate in the program, Evangelidis said, are the best of the best — they’re non-violent offenders with no sex crimes. They’ve worked to earn the right to take part in the program, he said.
“We want to promote the idea that these inmates, especially those that work in this program, they are people that are turning their lives around. They’re giving back and they’re people that should be given an opportunity,” said Evangelidis. “They’ve earned that right.”
One inmate, Alberto, said he’s getting out on May 5, and the program helps him feel like he’s heading out and getting to work. Plus, he said, “it’s good to give back to the community.”
Regarding the Milford assignment, several inmates said it wasn’t half bad. Usually, they’re on the highway, so cleaning municipal streets is stress-free by comparison. Another inmate, Frank, said someone even honked a horn, yelled “Freedom!” and stuck up a closed fist in solidarity.
They got a chuckle out of that, he said.
Others were just happy to get out of the House of Corrections.
“I was trying to get a tan worked on too,” said another inmate named Paul, wearing a cut sleeve shirt, to crease out the farmer’s tan.
“I don’t think we have any tanning lotion, though.”
Apr 28, 2016
By Jordan Tillery, firstname.lastname@example.org
FITCHBURG — More than 300 Fitchburg High School freshmen watched in horror as Principal Jeremy Roche’s face became darkened and hollowed before their eyes on the projector in the school’s auditorium Thursday morning.
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis was using an image of Roche’s face to show the effects of different drug addictions using Face2Face software.
Five years ago Evangelidis began his Face2Face program to educate students about the facts and myths surrounding drug and alcohol addiction.
He has now presented to more than 200,000 students in the region.
He said he changes it every year depending what drugs are popular at the time. This year he’s added vaping and more information about opiates.
Students oohed while watching the reconstructive software transform the familiar faces of students and faculty members depicting what happens after prolonged opiate use.
One of the reasons he created the program geared towards younger students is because the majority of addicts who have shared their stories with Evangelidis said their addiction began in either high school or middle school, he said.
“Twenty-five percent of the crowd will never need to hear this, 25 percent are past this point,” Evangelidis said. “But 50 percent of students are still working through these issues.”
He held up Drano and other cleaners to show what chemicals can end up in the drugs that are considered “safe” and addressed myths about various drugs and alcohol.
Apr 28, 2016
By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – With humor, pop culture references, and actual footage of inmates, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis presented his powerful Face2Face Program to eighth-grade students at Robert E. Melican Middle School.
The program’s intended purpose is to debunk the myths about substance abuse with actual facts and reinforce the notion that your choices really do matter, especially in middle and high school.
He has presented this program for the past five years to over 190, 000 students and is passionate that he is making a difference by giving these students hard facts in an entertaining and engaging way.
“As a school community, we are well aware of the opioid issue facing all communities and middle school is a time when kids have a lot of choices to make,” Principal Michelle Karb said. “We know a lot of experimenting takes place. I think that combined with how society views drugs and alcohol, this [program] seemed like a good fit.”
“I believe that because the inmates in my jail, where 90 percent of them are substance abusers, have told me that they wish they knew then what they know now as they would have made different choices,” Evangelidis said. “The fact of the matter is that these drugs are dangerous and addictive. Addiction is a disease. All drugs effect the brain especially in teens.”
One of the myths, he told the students, is that substance abusers can quit whenever they want but that is not the case. For those that end up being incarcerated, their life changes fast when they are in a jail cell. The sheriff elaborated a bit on what a day in prison looks like for an inmate, even showing an actual prison uniform.
He used examples of many recognizable faces in pop culture who are affected by drug and alcohol use, such as Charlie Sheen, Macaulay Culkin and Lindsay Lohan, to show the negative effects on their physical appearance. He spoke of Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and others who have died from drug overdoses. The common thread with these stars is that they all made bad choices.
One of the most compelling parts of the sheriff’s presentation was software that allowed students to see themselves as addicts and the physical deterioration drug abuse can cause. Pictures of several students were taken and transformed in front of the audience.
The students were asked why they thought people used drugs and alcohol; they gave many thoughtful responses including peer pressure, depression, to fit in, to feel good, to have fun, for escape, and more.
Evangelidis went on to explain why marijuana is called the “gateway drug” with the myth that many feel it is safe because it’s natural and from the earth.
“I heard from so many inmates that they started with marijuana, which they began to smoke on a daily basis. They relied on that daily high. Once you get high, it changes everything,” said Evangelidis.
The students listened attentively as Evangelidis explained the myths and facts about many addictive substances.
“Another common myth is that prescription medications are safe because they are prescribed by a medical doctor,” he noted. “When they are not used as intended they can be quite dangerous. It’s unfortunate that this generation is being referred to as ‘Generation Rx’ as many have tried prescription opioids.”
Evangelidis said he hoped the program reached at least a few students, encouraging them to make better choices.
(l to r) Eighth-grade students Liz DeVarney, Lucy Ganvin, Jack Rafferty and Quinn Potter with Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis. The students allowed the use of their photos to simulate how they would be transformed if they abused substances.