MAILED: Sept. 15, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE -- A small work crew from the Black River Correctional Center will begin the task of scraping and removing old paint in the McPhee Physical Education Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire later this month.
The work crew will be made up of inmates who are near the end of their sentences for non-violent offenses at the correctional center, which is a minimum security facility not to be confused with the nearby Jackson Correctional Institution.
"This is considered a very desirable job, and the men must show readiness for working in this situation," said Terry Classen, director of Facilities Planning and Management at UW-Eau Claire. The inmates earn $1 an hour for their labor.
Inmates selected for a community-based project such as the McPhee job have already completed a school or work program and demonstrated positive behavior, according to correctional center superintendent Thomas Karlen.
"Only our best workers and our best risks can participate in this kind of program," Karlen said.
The three- or four-man crew will scrape and remove interior wall paint throughout McPhee's Ade Olson Addition, which was built in 1987. The paint is cracked and peeling, according to Classen, creating a shabby and unsightly appearance in a building that is heavily used by student athletes, faculty, staff and others.
Classen said the raked-joint concrete block walls must be scraped by hand rather than sandblasted because of the number of people in the building and the mess that sandblasting would make. "This is a very labor intensive process," Classen said. "If we had to contract for the work, it would cost the university about $140,000."
Kathleen Mitchell, associate vice chancellor for business and student services, said the state through Department of Administration funding will pick up all costs for the job, including a driver to transport the crew between the correctional center and the university each day. "Clearly this is a win-win situation for the state, the inmates and the university," she said.
Athletic Director Marilyn Skrivseth is pleased that the Olson Addition is getting a face lift. "This is a wonderful idea. The building really needs painting, and I'm satisfied that the screening and security process involved in the selection of the work crew makes this a low-risk situation for people using the building."
Classen estimates the job will take about one year.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Sept. 15, 1997