Coal County inmate work program improving community

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COAL COUNTY, OK -- A new inmate work program is helping improve Coal County's appearance at a lower cost. It is called the Coal County DIRT Program. Dirt standing for "Daily Inmate Roadside Task". The program officially kicked off at the beginning of this month and some residents say they are already seeing improvements around the county.

Monday three inmates spent most of their day picking up trash around an area lake and along several Coal County roads.

"We're going to try to keep everything looking clean as best as we can," Sheriff Jump said.

Sheriff Bryan Jump says trustees do more than just clean up area roads through the new inmate work program. He says they have repainted graffitied bridges, cut down unwanted brush and some even take care of their own garden.

"Well we've planted a little garden to help keep some of the inmates busy and to help feed them... It cuts down a little bit on costs saves a little bit on groceries," Sheriff Jump said.

Resident Terri Henry says the new inmate work program has already made a difference along the highway she travels everyday.

"It's a lot cleaner than what it was. I mean you could drive down the road and see trash. I mean cans and sacks and now I mean it's clean. It looks clean," Henry said.

County Commissioner Johnny Ward says the program is a win win for most everyone involved. He says it lets non-violent offenders work outside completing projects that would normally be left up to commissioners.

"When they're out there picking up brush and running chipping machines, chipping brush and then picking up trash, you know that helps tremendously because we can concentrate on other things," Ward said.

Ward says the program costs about $2,800 dollars a month to run and is funded through the county's solid waste & recycling center. The county has also hired a fifth deputy to oversee the program.

"It kind of puts and extra person out there to see what's going on around the county too," Ward said.

"I think it's great. I think it puts back into the community, and plus helps them too," Henry said.

At the beginning of the month county commissioners approved funding for the Coal County Dirt Program. Ward says they are also applying for a grant to help pay for supplies like trash bags and gas.

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