BY AMIE SITES
---- — Look around — you might see inmates assigned to Cass-Pulaski Community Corrections beautifying Logansport.
As part of a work release program, offenders plant flowers, hang baskets, mow grass, water flowers and carry out other landscaping tasks seven days a week. They also water flowers eight hours each night with a new truck with a water tank.
Dave Wegner, director of the department, said work release crews are working on continuing the downtown beautification process.
Each year they complete a major project — this year they worked on a landscaping project near the courthouse.
Chris Gaumer, assistant planning director and county zoning administrator, said Wegner asked him if he could draw some plans for the courthouse along Fourth Street. Wegner and Gaumer have worked together before through Logan’s Landing.
Gaumer said the plans were completed about six to eight weeks ago.
“We just really wanted to make sure the courthouse looked welcoming,” Gaumer said. “It was looking a little drab and by adding trees and some color with the purple and yellow flowers it gave it a more unified look.”
Gaumer said he thinks people are enjoying it.
“I see people use the benches in the front of the county building more than they did in the past,” Gaumer said.
The program, Wegner said, can is beneficial to those who complete it and the community members who can see it.
“It’s tangible. [Offenders] can see they did something,” Wegner said. “They can start a project, it can look nice, they get compliments. It is positive reinforcement.”
The project requires problem-solving skills, too.
“Last year we were struggling with the heat,” Wegner said. “This year they have to figure out a way to work with the wind and rain. It’s challenging but rewarding.”
On average, the program costs $20,000, which includes flowers, soil and the cost of labor. This year, it received $4,500 from the city toward plants on the south side and downtown and for extra baskets. Wegner said the cost is budgeted from user fees.
The plants are available at no cost for properties owned by the city, county or local nonprofit organizations.
The two greenhouses next to AIM High Park near the Cass County 4-H Fairgrounds have been a large part of the beautification process, Wegner said.
“We’re committed to provide help to the city, county and beautification project,” Wegner said. “We want to make everyone happy.”
The program uses 7,000 annuals and 7,000 perennials and started some vegetable seeds for the community garden. Along with providing for Logansport, they also provide flowers to other towns in the county.
Wegner said they start the flowers with plugs. The perennials and vegetables are started with seeds. He said it takes them about three or four months before they’re ready to go out.
Wegner said they are trying to move toward perennials so they have more funds to do baskets.
Gaumer said he thinks the program is great.
“It’s something that gets them out in the community and has them working on something where they can see a positive outcome,” Gaumer said. “It’s good for everyone involved.”
Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.