State prisoners among those cleaning up ice storm debris

Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Chipping their way along county roadways were (from left) Logan Kirk, Jimmy Hill and Simon Steele, state trusty prisoners, who have been on the job since the late January ice storm. Pictured with them was Brandon Gilbert, a county jail inmate hoping to earn a spot as a work release prisoner, and county road department employees Jeremy Asbury and Don Mizener. They were working on Carroll Road 647 last week, in the Cisco Road area. Anna Mathews / Carroll County News

BERRYVILLE -- State prisoners serving their time in the county jail have been out working the county roads, cleaning up the many miles of ice storm debris littering the roadways.

Along with them is an 18-year-old Green Forest youth, Brandon Gilbert, who was sentenced to 60 days in the county jail.

Gilbert says he prefers to be working in the great outdoors, rather than "playing cards or reading," pastimes he pursues while confined indoors.

He is the only inmate housed at the jail who is serving an extended sentence handed down by a local judge, said Sheriff Bob Grudek.

Because of that, Gilbert may be eligible for a work release program, which would enable him to earn pay as contract laborer during the federally-supported disaster cleanup effort.

Gilbert would be required to pay the jail $10 a night for his lodging, but can pocket the difference, Grudek said.

The county road department has been approved to pay $15.60 an hour for disaster related cleanup labor, which Grudek says would be a "tidy sum of money" for Gilbert to sock away -- even after paying his daily housing cost.

Gilbert has to first prove himself as a worthy laborer.

"He's a good candidate for the program," Grudek said, "and a recommendation will be made based on his performance these next few weeks."

Working with Gilbert are state trusty prisoners, those whose lodging is paid by the state, and are trusted to perform many tasks, both inside and outside of the jail.

They include Jimmy Hill, Logan Kirk and Simon Steele, all men Carroll County Judge Sam Barr said are "good workers."

The trustys must have a male supervisor with them when working in the community. In this case, it is two road department employees assigned to road cleanup detail.

One of those employees, Jeremy Asbury, said he's been working with the trustys ever since the ice storm first hit.

As a brush-cutting crew, they travel the county roadways "chipping and spitting" limb debris set out along the roads.

Averaging about a mile a day, the work has been daunting. The good new is, they say their crew will soon be one of nearly a dozen making their way through the county, each assigned a different section. Officials say the county limb clean-up effort is expected to take more than a month to complete.

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