Residents may have noticed the results of a recent facelift to the exterior of and the , the results of two weeks of hard work by a group of prisoners who came to town under Sheriff Thomas Hodgson's Community Work Program.
Selectman Robert Kimball praised the efforts of the crew on Thursday, saying the town saved thousands of dollars by asking the Sheriff's office for help.
"This prisoners did a good job, and they are proud of what they are doing," Kimball said. "They were even making suggestions about what could be done. I can't thank them enough."
The six member crew painted, landscaped, and cleaned up property, Kimball said, adding he wanted townspeople to understand it cost nothing to have them come out.
The work program has been in existence for a number of years, and trains low risk inmates to paint, landscape, restore buildings, and do needed carpentry on town-owned buildings, as well as recreation fields, churches, and non-profits.
Kimball said later the only expense involved was food. "We try to feed them really well, and they love it," he said.
Town Manager Michael Yunits told the board he intended to write a letter of thanks to the Sheriff's office.
The web site for the work program, www.bcso-ma.us/workprograms.htm, indicates Bristol County has saved about $1.3 million a year using inmate work forces.
Kimball also noted it may be time to pursue another long-awaited improvement project - the renovation of the selectmen's meeting room and adjacent hallway structure. He said a plan had been completed some years ago for that portion of the 1970s era building, including an entire redesign of the hallway, meeting room, and town manager's office complex.
The meeting room where most of the major committee work of the town is conducted is undersized for such a large community, and acoustics are notoriously bad, with the sounds of activity in the upper story meeting room and the hallway interrupting proceedings and making the cable recording process more difficult.
Overflow audiences, like the Scout troop that visited on Thursday, are forced to stand on the staircase to the meeting room, or wait in the hallway.
Carpets have not been changed since the building was first occupied in the 70s, he said.
Kimball added the redesign plan includes portable partitions that can be moved around to adapt to the use of the space.
He suggested the board think about the start of the reconstruction project in the spring, and said he thought most of the work could be done by town staff.
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