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Inmates overhauling shelter

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / March 25, 1998

LAPLACE – It was notorious for foul stenches, fungal infections and unbearable extremes of heat and cold.

No more. The St. John Parish Animal Shelter is getting an overhaul, thanksto Sheriff Wayne L. Jones’ inmate work program.For the past few weeks an inmate work crew under the supervision of Lt.

Lenard Robinet has been hard at work, saving the parish thousands of dollars in carpentry work.

A new ceiling has been installed to go with the new light fixtures, enclosing of the outer walls is well under way and doors are going up this week. When completed, the animal shelter will have a climate controlsystem, including heat and air conditioning. A burglar alarm system andnew security fencing are also planned in the next few weeks.

“I’ll tell you, these guys are good!” exclaimed Heidi Hogan of the shelter.

“And they’re very polite!” Hogan added the work is the fulfillment of goals she’s had for the shelter during the past six years. “It’s fantastic!” she continued.The inmate work program has made a significant impact on public facilities across the parish, from renovation work at the old jail to expansion of the Edgard Senior Center to renovation work at the St. JohnTheatre, making the restrooms wheelchair-accessible.

Inmate carpenter Dale Morgan, who has worked on most of these projects, is moving to a work-release program out of Jackson soon. “Before here, Idid historical renovation work. I was due to work on Marie Laveau’s house,but I was arrested the day before.”Inmate carpenter Brad Madere continued, “After I get out, I hope to start my own business, doing stucco applications and concrete slabs.”The program allows qualified inmates in the parish jail serving time for non-violent offenses to work outside the jail on public facilities. Inmatesqualify for the program through their good behavior. Skills such ascarpentry, plumbing, heating and air conditioning and painting are not allowed to go to waste.

These are short-timers, with only months or weeks remaining to their sentences, motivated to behave themselves, Lt. Michael Tregre of the St.John Sheriff’s Office added.

“People want to see this,” Tregre continued, and said the public wants to know inmates are not simply sitting around in air-conditioned comfort, waiting for release, but working on behalf of the public.

“This allows me to keep up my skills,” Madere continued. “I’m not comingback. My three kids need me.”

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