Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 18, 2018

Inmates to begin working on projects for county’s Conservation Department

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | Apr 11, 2018

The Henry County Conservation Department will be receiving some additional labor, free of charge, from inmates in the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility this spring.

Department director John Pullis received a call from the Department of Corrections last week requesting projects inmates could take on in Henry County’s parks and trails. So far, Pullis has supplied them with a list of 20 projects from clearing trails to painting restrooms, “you name it,” he said during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 10.

“We’re going to try to use their help,” Pullis said, adding that they are cleared to run chain saws, skid loaders and other machinery.

The Conservation Department will not be required to provide the inmates compensation, supervision or meals, as all will come from the Department of Corrections.

“They bring them, they pick them up and they bring their lunches,” Henry County Auditor Shelly Barber said.

As the Conservation Department looks toward spring, they are considering options aside from tree sap for dust control, which is no longer being offered by their supplier, Oak Ridge Services. Pullis said another option is magnesium chloride; however, he heard it is more corrosive than using calcium chloride.

“I don’t know which way to turn on this,” Pullis said. “We’ve got to have that dust control down.”

Pullis mentioned that places where they used soybean oil last year seem to be holding up for a second year, maybe possibly a third. Even though soybean oil is two to three times more expensive than other dust control options, Pullis said that if they can get use out of it for multiple years, it may be an option.

However, Pullis also said that the department gets more complaints from residents three to five days after they have applied soybean oil. “We know from our vehicles, it’s hard to get off. It’s not good to try and clean off from cars,” Pullis said. “I understand why people are upset when they drive through this stuff, but it lasts a lot longer.”

The Conservation Department is making headway in conversations with an engineer, Matt Walker, about the feasibility of relocating Water Works Campground.

The department is seeking to move the Water Works Campground from its current location to higher ground to delay yearly flooding.

The Engineering Service Agreement with the engineer will provide the Conservation Board with a general idea of the project including field surveys, a conceptual layout for relocating the campground, a conceptual grade plan and a budget-cost estimate.

Pullis said that phase one of the preliminary services will cost $5,900, which is slightly less than the engineering firm they were working with previously.

“We know from practical experience that the South Shore Campground goes underwater later than Water Works (Campground) does; therefore, we would like to be at least at that river level or higher,” Pullis said. “One of the big questions is what it would cost to move it.”

Conservation Naturalists Cari Nicely and Danika Cox will be meeting with principals and teachers in the school districts where they do presentations to discuss expectations in the classroom.

Pullis said that the naturalists have had difficulties “as far as teachers participating in the program,” including teachers leaving the classroom and leaving it in the hands of Nicely and Cox during their presentation.

“When you look at it from an emergency standpoint, if there’s a student with a medical condition and that teacher happens to step out …” Pullis said. “Danika and Cari are confident they know evacuation procedures for fires and tornadoes (in the school buildings), but active shooter — what’s the protocol? That’s some of the things discussed.”

Nicely and Cox will be drawing up an agreement for principals and teachers to sign, saying they understand what expectations are when they present to students.

Pullis also announced that registration for summer camps is now available online. The website went live April 3. Pullis said that they have already had an overwhelming response from county residents trying to get their children booked into the summer programs.

In other news, Henry County Supervisors approved an agreement for TSIP funds to be used for two-foot paved shoulders with rumble strips on J20 from the intersection of Highway 218 to the intersection of X23.

Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss said that these improvements ended up benefiting Winfield Ave. and will help keep drivers safe.

“Rumble strips are what the community will have to get used to, but it’s a good way for us to bring in some safety funds and make improvements to our system,” Hotchkiss said.

Last week, territory operators installed additional erosion control on Nebraska Ave., sent trucks to spot haul rock for dust control locations and continued ditching operations in Salem. They also set up traffic control on Skunk River bridge on Old 24 for exploratory work on bridge approaches on Thursday, April 5.

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