One of the hardest working groups in Hopkins County is part of a program which has been around since the early 2000s. It's probably the last guess you would make. Currently sponsored by our county jailer (Mike Lewis) who runs sometimes six crews, this is the Hopkins County Jail Community Service Program (HCJCSP).

The program includes a welding class in which inmates can earn welder certificates. They learn construction skills and have constructed a number of bridges and docks for state parks and cities. Deputy Jailer Jerry Duval (EHS 1968) told me that he often takes the guys to study the job sites, then after they look at the area and think about it for a night or two they come up with amazing plans and ideas. They have completed two bridges for the Archery Club, eight at Mahr Park, three at the White Plains Walking Trail near the Community Center. Some construction is done at the jail and then moved to what will be its home site.

I am hopeful this talented, incarcerated crew may build E'ton a stable dock at Loch Mary below the amphitheater with benches, rails and a roof for adults and kids to sit at or fish from. It would serve a different purpose than the boat dock and would add a great deal to the enjoyment of the beautiful park. Their labor is free, but the municipalities purchase all materials and furnish the crews lunch. Several different crews have finished cleaning out trash, roofing and adding vinyl siding to the eaves of what will become E'ton's new community center and museum (thanks to a dream of the Purple Waves Preservation Society).

I have enjoyed being on one of the lunch crews for

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these guys for several meals. Although I have no idea how many, many have volunteered food. I do recall Mary Yancy, 4 council persons (Vernon & I, the Rev. Cottoner with his BBQ, & Barbara Ann Shelton), Theresa Qualls, Lorraine Scisney, the Rev. Glenda Wade, E'ton City. Usually there are two or three on each food day committee.

Sometimes we eat lunch with the guys in the park as it is a beautiful, relaxing place for lunch and to listen to waves lash the shore on windy days. The guys are always polite and seem appreciative of whatever meal is furnished.

Last week after lunch, a lady came to our canopied-lunch area and asked if we knew anyone who could get the dog droppings from the boat dock. She was there with her children, and the dock was so thoroughly covered they had to be careful where they stepped. The deputy pointed out two long lines of ducks floating nonchalantly just off the shore and laughed that the guilty culprits sported feathers rather than a mane.

The five trustees on the crew that day pulled a large piece of cardboard thrown atop the trash can to clean off the area before her boys got back onto the dock. One trustee remembered shovels in the truck and cleaned off the remains from the sneaky, feathered swimmers, who obviously preferred the wooden dock to dirt. The lady, who had waited with us cooks, said she and the boys were most appreciative and she was afraid they would have to leave without being able to fish. Any mother would have been proud of her boy for such a good deed. At least, that mother flashed a thankful smile and sighed her thanks.

Their construction skills (and destruction skills which they have offered to the city in demolishing a few burned-out houses in E'ton) are never used on private property, only county or municipal areas. They do no electrical, heating-air, or plumbing. Something I did not know about these teams is they and their trucks are always "storm-ready."

In a tragedy or potential heavy storm with damages, they are dispersed to other counties. They have been to Smithland and Powderly when asked to assist. So, they don't just help in Hopkins County. They go where their help is needed. I would not have thought of these guys as first-responders, but they have been that many times. These are also the guys who worked their hearts out to clean up Barnsley Cemetery and helped the Hop. Co. Genealogical Group to ID as many of those interred as possible. Many graves were simply deep rectangular impressions in the dirt.

The guys added white wooden crosses if there were no names. When the coal mines stripped the area, they changed the habitat around the area. Many people were unable to find their loved one's sites. One designed a new area to make it his own using rocks to mark off an area and a small stone around which to leave flowers. My sister Rita took the names the Genea. Soc. collected and researched each into a book called "1200 Crosses" The title references the hundreds of white wooden crosses the trustees placed by the indentions.

Sometimes, they found stones under the earth where they had fallen long ago. Each Christmas the last two years unknown angels fashioned hundreds of red bows with greenery and attached the ribboned seasonal corsages. Later Jerry and his cousin Doug Bullock installed a flagpole and light at the entrance to the Barnsley Cemetery. The rock road continues to the end where it circles back and is lined with a fence and several benches.

From Barnsley, the guys have gone on to clean up a number of other cemeteries in the county. The guys also designed and constructed the garden for the 1918 Spanish Flu mass grave at Oakwood. They dug a long trench about 6-8" deep and almost 40' long and lined it with large heavy sandstone. They added a white cross of pavers in the center and flat sandstone at the head and feet of the cross on which sits small concrete angels.

In another spot is a birdbath which earlier sat on the deputy's lawn with a stone bird at the foot. He added many flowers from his own back yard for the birdbath and throughout the memorial area. Four beautiful rose bushes adorn the area along with impatients, glads, petunias, daisys, and a multitude of bulbs. Later, my sister, who graduated with Jerry presented him her copy of the "1200 Crosses."

Deputy Maxberry's crew recently installed new flooring in Nortonville's Fire Dept, rebuilt support walls, and remodeled the bathroom at the Hop. Co. Chamber of Commerce. One crew works specifically for the State Hwy Dept. The CSP has two crews that mow 33-34 sites around the county. Sgt. Thomas, who runs the shop crew, maintains jail equipment, and manages the jail garden which provides fresh veggies to inmates.

A number of crews assist in other projects around the county. If you have not seen the work of these guys, take a look at the many bridges & projects they have completed around the county or the amazing changes they have made including allowing the old E'ton church on McEuen to continue serving our community. When you see the various crews working in the hot sun and cold winds, think of the many improvements they have made which small municipalities likely couldn't have afforded.

Think of them as "sometimes first-responders." These one-time "bad boys" are using a generous chance to learn several "trades" and are "good boys" under the supervision of some super-nice deputies. I'd like to say thanks to all who have made the HCJCSP program possible "Thanks, guys, for the amazing difference you have made in our city." And for all you have done in the many places lucky enough to be placed "on your list."

If you happen to be at Spencer Brewer's White Plains program/luncheon on Mon 15 July at 11:45, take a look at their bridges nearby. Spenser will have a duel program that day -- a salute to one of E'ton's favorite WW II veterans, centurion Freddie Wilcox, followed by Paul Devine on the guitar accompanied by little songstress Madison Ramage with a medley of country songs. Whip up a desert or salad or buy a couple bags of chips or liter drinks to go with their tasty burgers.

Grab a table and chair and settle back for some nice entertainment. You guys realize that Spencer and Linda do all they do as hardworking volunteers. Don't forget to tell the amazing duo you appreciate what they'd given us for many years. He does the same at the Dawson Sr. Citizen Center & at M'ville with his entertaining history class (alas, no potluck there). Hopefully, if he's still kicking, E'ton will have a center for him to bring his programs closer to home.

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