Newspaper

Sep 19, 2014

Worcester County Sheriff Donates Produce from Inmate Effort to Veterans, Food Pantries

 Friday, September 12, 2014

Picture

Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis, right, delivers squash from the inmate farm project to Matthew J. Daly, center, Veterans Inc. chef, at the Grove Street facility Friday. Pvt. Bryan Almstrom, helps the farm program. (T&G Staff/BRAD PETRISHEN)

By Brad Petrishen TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
brad.petrishen@telegram.com

WORCESTER — If someone had driven past Veterans Inc. on Grove Street Friday morning, they might have wondered about the tall man in sharp business attire unloading butternut squash out the back of a House of Correction truck. 

“Bumper crop,” a smiling Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis said of the haul from the jail farm this year. “Not only do we feed people in the jail, we’ve got surplus.” 

Mr. Evangelidis was in the city Friday dropping off some of that surplus to the veterans organization. Before that, he was at the Rutland Food Pantry. His office also planned to make donations at food pantries in Sutton and Millbury.

The harvest is the result of an inmate farm project he restarted in 2012 on land owned by the jail that had been vacant. 

What started with 10 acres has expanded to 12 acres, he said, and this year the effort yielded more than 9,000 ears of corn and 12,000 pounds of vegetables. 

The result, the sheriff said, has been fresher food for inmates, a $20,000 savings for taxpayers on food costs and better morale at the prison. 

“Our inmates — particularly the older ones — benefit from the patience (required) of growing,” Mr. Evangelidis said. 

“It’s better than sitting in a cell,” agreed Lt. David Kalagher, a 32-year jail employee who remembers the land being farmed decades ago under different circumstances. 

“When I started here, it was more like hard labor,” Lt. Kalagher said, describing past sheriffs’ approach to the farm as more “old-school.” 

Mr. Kalagher said the farm project was abandoned for years until Mr. Evangelidis revived it in 2012. Mr. Kalagher said he is thrilled with the result, noting the inmates in the program were able to turn $1,000 in seeds into more than 10,000 pounds of produce. 

“Lots of the guys we have in the jail are from the city, so they’re learning,” he said. “They get to eat the food that resulted from their hard work.” 

This year’s all-organic crops include corn, zucchini, summer squash, acorn squash, butternut squash and pumpkins. 

“I’ll definitely take these,” Veterans Inc. chef Matthew J. Daly said Friday of the squash, getting Mr. Evangelidis to promise to return in November ahead of the group’s annual Holiday Harvest. 

Rachael Caplin, volunteer and donations coordinator for Veterans Inc., thanked the sheriff enthusiastically for the donation. 

“I don’t know what we would have done otherwise,” she said, noting they lost some donors this year and are scrambling to find more. 

The Grove Street pantry, which serves about 800 veteran families per year, is always looking for help, Ms. Caplin said. 

Mr. Evangelidis said he hopes to have even more to offer next year, as he’s planning a “significant” expansion.

“So many good things have sprouted as a result of our farming,” he said. 

Sep 19, 2014

Shrewsbury’s Sheriff’s Senior Picnic Brings Out Record Crowd

Posted by Rachael on Aug 26th, 2014

Senior Picnic 2014 Sheriff with Shrewsbury Grafton Seniors Shrewsburys Sheriff’s<br />
 Senior Picnic Brings Out Record Crowd Shrewsbury Massachusetts

SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis had the distinct pleasure of hosting well over 1,000 senior citizens from throughout Worcester County for the Sheriff’s Annual Senior Picnic held on Saturday August 16th at SAC Park in Shrewsbury. This year’s Sheriff’s picnic was highly anticipated and brought out a record crowd, the largest ever in the history of the annual event.

“As Sheriff hosting the annual senior picnic is one of the biggest highlights of the year, it’s always a great honor to give back to our seniors who have given so much to their communities.   It’s fantastic to see that over 1,000 seniors from across Worcester County attended today’s picnic, this is truly a special day and I am so thrilled  everyone is enjoying such a wonderful afternoon of fun, food and music.” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.

The picnic was sponsored by the Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association including donations by many local businesses and featured a traditional BBQ menu, cash bingo, raffle prizes, complimentary gift bags and music entertainment.  Over 200 volunteers were also on hand to assist with the record breaking turnout.  The Sheriff also provided inmate labor to assist with the set up and break down of the highly attended event.

“Today’s senior picnic was outstanding, the Sheriff and his great team of volunteers treated us to a wonderful day of delicious food, fun, raffles and bingo.  I can not thank Sheriff Evangelidis enough for hosting this wonderful event for all the seniors of Worcester County.  This picnic was so much fun, I can’t remember the last time I had such a nice day.”  said Auburn Resident & senior picnic attendee Irene Collins.

Senior Picnic 2014 Crowd Shot 1 Shrewsburys Sheriff’s Senior Picnic Brings Out Record<br />
 Crowd Shrewsbury Massachusetts

“With the biggest crowd ever, there was so much fun and excitement at this year’s senior picnic as Sheriff I am already looking forward to planning this event for next year.” said Evangelidis.

Sep 19, 2014

Crime-prevention Tips — From Ones Who Know

Sheriff program helps seniors take precautions
By Alana Melanson, amelanson@sentinelandenterprise.com
UPDATED: 08/21/2014 06:53:35 AM

FITCHBURG — A Worcester County Sheriff’s Office program is teaching seniors how to protect themselves from thieves and scam artists — by learning safety tips directly from those who commit the crimes.

“Serving Time, Preventing Crime — Inmates in Their Own Words” incorporates video interviews with inmates into a seminar, presented by Sheriff’s Office community outreach workers, that is designed to open their eyes to potential weak spots in their homes and vehicles that could open them to thefts or worse. Inmates’ faces are blurred in the videos.
“These are from the inmates themselves,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Shawn McKenna, as he presented the seminar at the Fitchburg Senior Center Wednesday morning.

“This is like seeing the opposing team’s playbook.”

One inmate said a thief can slip in and out of a home in under two minutes, making off with anywhere between $1,000 and as much as $30,000 in valuables that are easy to carry and run with.

Bedrooms are often the first spot a thief will go, the inmate said, because that’s where most valuables are kept. Thieves will tear rooms apart, going for the usual hiding spots like dresser drawers and underneath mattresses, he said, recommending a bolted-down safe as the best option to prevent loss of valuables.

In the summertime, don’t forget to secure the front of your home when you’re preoccupied in the backyard, McKenna said.

“People are having barbecues, there are graduation parties — there’s a lot of stuff that goes on the back, people forget about what’s going in the front of the house, especially if you have a lot of people over,” he said. “There are cars all over the neighborhood, there are cars in the driveway, people are coming and going. It’s very easy for somebody to blend in, just step right into the house, grab something quickly and walk right out the front door, while everyone’s in the backyard having a good time.”

  “If someone comes for an unscheduled appointment, call the company first,” an inmate recommended. “It only takes one quick phone call to prevent something real bad from happening–especially if someone’s going to go to that point of coming into your house while you’re home, obviously they’re willing to do anything.”

“If you live alone, don’t advertise it,” McKenna said.

He gave the example of one woman at a seminar in another town who said she puts very large men’s work boots on her front porch, to give the impression that somebody who fits into them lives there.

“That way, anybody that walks by the house or comes to the front door, they’re going to think somebody inside has a size 16 foot,” McKenna said, drawing laughs from the seniors.

In terms of cars, trunks can give a false sense of security, he said, so it’s best to lock all of the doors.

“Pretty much every car these days has a trunk release button,” McKenna said. “If they can get into your passenger compartment, they can get into your trunk.”

Senior Kristine Reynolds said she always locks all of her car doors, but was surprised nonetheless that only locking the trunk would mean a purse or gifts inside would not be safe.

“I was also surprised that a yappy dog would not be very good protection, because they’re not afraid of them,” she said. “I always heard they were good protection because they were noisy.”

Other home tips

* Air conditioners can be an easy access point for thieves. Screwing them into the windowsill can prevent break-ins.

* A broken broomstick handle or piece of wood in the track of a sliding door or window can prevent them from being fully opened even if a lock is broken.

* Keep bushes trimmed, especially those by windows. They can be a great place for criminals to hide and break in unseen.

* Place alarm company stickers and placards in highly visible areas. Even if you don’t have an alarm system, ask a neighbor to share, or use stickers and magnets from mailers.

* Don’t leave ladders or equipment such as barrels or buckets out in plain sight. These items can be used to access unlocked windows that are higher up in the home.

* Outside sensor lights are a good idea, as long as they’re not easily reachable. If within reach, a thief can unscrew it to turn it off.

* Dogs are a deterrent, and the bigger and louder the better. Fake out thieves by putting out larger dog dishes or playing recordings of a dog barking.

* If your home is broken into while you’re there, hide and call for help. Don’t investigate because you never know what kind of weapons an intruder may have. The bathroom is the best place to hide, because items like shower and towel rods can be used as weapons if necessary.

* Don’t leave mail in your mailbox, especially checks that would have a routing number for your account.

* When cashing a check or withdrawing money at a bank, don’t walk out of the building counting your money. Count it at the teller counter.

* Carefully monitor debit and credit card transactions.

* Senior housing communities can give a false sense of security. Just because the front door to your building is locked doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lock your apartment door. Verify all visitors–don’t just let anyone in.

Car tips

* Lock all of your doors when parking somewhere.

* Don’t leave any valuables or identifying information in plain sight.

* Park close to other vehicles.

* When leaving somewhere at night, have your keys ready to enter your vehicle.

* Never feel compelled to walk right to your vehicle if something doesn’t seem right. If you’re at a store or restaurant, go back in and ask for assistance, or wait for a large group of people to leave and walk with them.

* Invest in car alarms if possible.

Sep 19, 2014

Inmates Help at Church, Thrift Shop

Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis recently provided two inmate work crews from the Worcester County House of Correction Community Service Program to lend a hand with projects at St. Francis Episcopal Church as well as the Corner Shop Thrift Store in Holden.

Pictured with Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, right, are Corner Shop Manager Lori Tokarowski and Chairman of the Corner Shop Committee Elizabeth Davis, while in the background inmates apply a fresh coat of paint to the interior of the Corner Shop Thrift Store. Submitted photo

The no-cost labor is provided through the Sheriff ’s Inmate Community Service Program, which places low-risk, nonviolent, non-sex offender inmates while supervised into the community to assist municipalities and nonprofits throughout Worcester County. Most recently both St. Francis and The Corner Shop, located at Holden’s First Congregational Church, benefitted from the sheriff ’s program.

More than a dozen different inmates worked six days to complete the extensive projects, which included a new brick walkway for St. Francis as well as a fresh coat of paint for all of the interior walls, hallways and trim work inside the Corner Shop.

In Holden, the inmate labor has provided more than $100,000 in cost savings including previous projects completed for the local EMS, police and fire departments as well as at theJefferson School. The most recent St. Francis and Corner Shop projects resulted in a savings of more than $15,000.

“The men did an incredibly professional job painting the Corner Shop, which exceeded my expectations. They were hardworking, well-mannered, and had a very professional attitude. I would highly recommend Sheriff Evangelidis’ Inmate Community Service Program to other nonprofit organizations,’’ said Corner Shop manager Lori Tokarowski.

“As sheriff, I am thrilled to have recently provided our inmate work crews to paint the interior of the Corner Shop as well as build a beautiful walk way for St. Francis Church, as both places have a long history of serving the residents of Holden’s community. Providing no-cost labor to our cities and towns as well as local nonprofits through our Community Service Program helps to complete projects that might not otherwise get done. This is truly a win-win program, that not only saves money but also works to turn inmates’ lives around,’’ Evangelidis said.
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