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5/5/2014 7:31:00 AM

Community Service participants lend a hand in Hubbardston 

Eryn Dion
News Staff Writer

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis visits participants

of the county’s Community Service program as they work on the  youth baseball fields in Hubbardston.

HUBBARDSTON—Inmates from the Worcester County House of Corrections traded their cells for a baseball diamond Friday afternoon, as the Sheriff Office’s Inmate Community Service Program stopped by the Roy E. Handy Jr. Memorial field to ready the landscape for opening day.

“I love this program,” commented Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, who dropped by the field to oversee the crew.

According to the Sheriff, the program has tripled in size during his term and has saved towns across the county several million dollars. Multiple crews travel throughout the area, completing inside work during the cold winter months and outside work in the spring and summer. In Hubbardston alone, the inmate’s work on the baseball fields has saved the town over $27,000 in the last four years. Friday’s three-person crew has been raking gravel and painting dugouts all week.

The work crews are made up of non-violent offenders from around Worcester County who are within six months of their scheduled release date. The service is voluntary and inmates are screened before they can enter the program.

“They want to do this,” said Sheriff Evangelidis. “They see it as a privilege.”

The Sheriff explained that the inmates involved in the program see it as a way to gain skills like painting and landscaping, making them more marketable once they are released. Many people who end up in the prison system have no useful skills and no way of gaining meaningful employment.

The Community Service Program ensures that these inmates learn the tools they need to get jobs and stay out of the prison system, he said.

The program has been keeping busy all around the greater-Gardner area, working in both Westminster and Gardner this week. The group will return to Hubbardston in June to help paint the Police Department at the request of Hubbardston Police Chief Dennis Perron.