When several large pine trees came down at Ridge Ferry Park as a result of the pipeline construction, they saw an opportunity.

“We got with Atlanta Gas Light and Todd Wofford (with Rome Floyd Parks & Recreation) and got permission to harvest the pine trees,” Floyd County Prison Warden Mike Long said. They took them to a sawmill, located on the airport grounds, and cut the lumber.

That lumber has been used to build pavilions at the airport and parks and make campsite upgrades at Lock & Dam Park.

It’s not the first time the prison noticed a need and filled it.

After storms a few months ago, there were several trees down on the campus of the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring.

Inmates took those fallen trees and, like the ones in Ridge Ferry Park, milled them and constructed picnic tables that they donated back to the school.

Those skills learned at the saw mill translate as they near release.

“These inmates who work at our saw mill are building skills that help them land jobs at the Georgia-Pacific saw mill in Coosa,” Long said.

Among other paths prisoners can take to find work skills after release is a welding class through Georgia Northwestern Technical College and other entities.

Stephanie Scearce, GNTC vice president of economic development, went before the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Workforce Investment Board to apply and successfully secure funding for the course.

They also secured the use of a mobile welding lab from the Technical College System of Georgia.

The prison recently partnered with Georgia Northwestern Technical College, and several other companies, to bring the welding school back.

This past weekend, the prison fielded four litter crews to pick up trash in the Lindale and Silver Creek area.

Covering both sides of several roads, they cleaned a total of over 60 miles and picked up 3,200 pounds of trash. Several hundred pounds of that trash was tires and used vehicle parts, Long said.

The county is also looking at using a prison-managed detail for litter control in the future near the Walker Mountain landfill, County Manager Jamie McCord said.

That’s not new, there have been prison details to clean up the area, but they’ve often been managed by a non-corrections employee. Once the plan is put in place they’ll clean up the area off Walker Mountain Road toward the bypass as well as portions of Cave Spring Street and South Broad Street.

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