York County inmates clear snow in city

Greg Gross

As snow clearing efforts reached day five on Thursday, York City received some much-needed help.

Half a dozen work release inmates from York County Prison pitched in to clear snow at intersections downtown, creating footpaths for pedestrians.

But the work was anything but easy. Snow that melted under warmer temperatures has refrozen into much heavier, ice-coated chunks at the intersection of East Market and Duke streets.

Nonetheless, the inmates said they enjoyed being out in the city helping out.

"I like working and helping out the community," said Brandon Duffey, an inmate. "It puts a smile on my face as long as it's helping the people."

Duffey, 23, is about two months from his release after being locked up on a retail theft conviction early this month.

The work: Doug Hoke, the York County vice president commissioner who heads the prison board, said he received a phone call from York City Mayor Kim Bracey asking for county resources, such as equipment, to help clear snow in the city.

But since the county doesn't have much in the way to snow-removing equipment, Hoke and prison Warden Mary Sabol instead offered up the inmates to lend a hand, he said.

"I think it's a great way to use (inmates) to do public service for the city," Hoke said.

For its part, the city supplied bright yellow shovels for the inmates to use.

The inmates were expected to work until about 3:30 p.m. Thursday and should be back Friday.

Elsewhere: Inmates from the prison were also called upon to help clear snow in other municipalities, such as Mount Wolf, Wrightsville and Dallastown, said Matt Reed, a corrections officer.

"If the taxpayers would see all the money they are saving ..." he said, nodding toward the group of men attempting to break through the icy chunks of snow. "It's something for the community see; them out helping out and working."

Inmates have also helped improve life in the county through other means.

Duffey said he helped take down the Christmas Magic light display at Rocky Ridge County Park earlier this month.

Inmates have also picked up trash around the city, cleaned up the York County Heritage Rail Trail, assisted in building Habitat for Humanity homes, and done manual labor in municipalities across the county, among other things.

Some inmates end up learning skills, such as drywalling, through the work and some gain employment once they are released, Reed said.

"I think they do a lot of good, quality work," Hoke said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.