North Carolina Department of Correction news release

State Prisoners Help Remove Snow

FEBRUARY 3, 1998 Links to more stories about prison labor assisting WNC

Western North Carolina -- As forecasters predict more snow for Western North Carolina, state prisoners continue to help the mountain communities that have suffered flooding and snow storms in recent weeks.

Catawba Correctional Center prisoner clears
snow from street in Boone.

Prisoners supervised by a correctional officer from Wilkes Correctional Center are working with community volunteers in Avery County today. The prisoners have shoveled snow, sorted donations and moved furniture at the old Minneapolis Elementary School being used by Bo Jones and other volunteers to pass donations to area families hardest hit by January’s flooding.

"The prisoners have been good workers. They’ve really made a difference," Jones said. "We’ve received donations from churches and other groups from across the state. We had been trying to phase out efforts, but with the rough weather expected this week we’re stocking food again."

Over the weekend, correctional officers and prisoners continued to help mountain communities remove snow. Correctional officers supervised prison work squads who helped clear snow in Boone Saturday and spent Sunday clearing sidewalks and parking lots at Appalachian State University.

Officer James Geer of Catawba Correctional Center
supervised the prisoner work squad in Boone.

"They helped clear snow from around buildings and sidewalks to make it safe to walk around campus and give people access to buildings," said Lisa Shoun, Watauga County’s emergency management coordinator.

Ten prisons supplied more than 150 prisoners to work in Avery, Madison and Watuaga counties Saturday. Buncombe, Catawba and Craggy correctional centers sent work crews to Madison and Watauga counties Sunday.

Crews from Blue Ridge Youth Center were among those helping Saturday. Correction and forestry officers led prisoner work crews that used chain saws to help clear roads still blocked by trees felled by last week’s snow.

"Initially, the crews cleared one lane to allow emergency traffic to pass, then they went back and cleared the whole road," said Keith Settles, a forestry officer who works with the young prisoners in the prison’s conservation program. "There were places where the road was completely blocked by trees. There were quiet a few down."

More than 250 prisoners worked Friday and 75 Thursday as prison managers coordinated with Emergency Management to put work crews where they were most needed.


More stories about cleaning up after the snow storm and flooding

1998 Winter Storm Clean up -- Blue Ridge Youth Center photo scrapbook, 2/24/98

Prisoners clean up after snow storm in Western North Carolina, 1/30/98

Inmate labor to help Western North Carolina communities, 1/29/98

Cleaning up after flooding in Western North Carolina, 1/15/98

NC prisoners help clean up after flooding in Avery and Mitchell counties, 1/12/98