Twenty inmates from South Fork Forest Camp helped the Vernonia School District move into its new K-12 school. Inmate crews worked three days, July 10-12, alongside school district staff members, students, parents and community volunteers, who accomplished moving nearly all the furniture, boxes and equipment from the old school to the new school.
The construction of the new K-12 school comes after major damage from a flood in 2007. At the time, more than 160 inmates worked for weeks assisting with the clean-up effort after the devastating flood. Inmate crews returned to the City of Vernonia at the request of the school district, which faced a daunting task.
"This move would not have been the success it was without the efforts of so many individuals, including the Department of Corrections' inmates," said Dr. Ken Cox, Vernonia School District Superintendent. "They provided tremendous assistance right after the flood and this move was no exception."
Senator Betsy Johnson commented, "Having the inmate work crews help with this effort is in part a story of second chances. These are individuals most people don't necessarily think of as contributing members of society. Yet here they are in a community they're not from, doing exceedingly hard work in a good-natured and positive way. They've earned the appreciation of the entire town."
DOC Director Colette S. Peters added, "These types of opportunities are important because we know that meaningful work opportunities and connections to the community contribute to a successful transition from prison to home. We are pleased to be part of the efforts to rebuild Vernonia."
DOC employs 4,300 staff members at 14 institutions and several centralized support facilities throughout Oregon. SFFC houses nearly 200 inmates who are within four years of release. It is a minimum-security work camp located approximately 28 miles east of Tillamook, just off the Wilson River Highway.