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Inmates help trim trees on county property

POSTED: January 17, 2014 11:52 p.m.

What was the prison detail outside the Hall County courthouse doing? It looked like they were cutting down the trees.

Like most Hall County government buildings, prison details are responsible for the landscaping and some indoor maintenance at the courthouse.

Friday, inmates were performing the winter pruning and upkeep on the courtyard next to the county courthouse. The trees are not being cut down. They are crape myrtles, which are pruned drastically once a year to keep them from overgrowing. Inmates perform upkeep and general maintenance on the courtyard near the downtown government building once a week.

Every day, about 120 prison inmates perform a variety of work details around Hall County, according to Walt Davis, warden of the Hall County Correctional Institute.

These details include maintaining the county’s many vehicles, working at the recycling center in Gainesville, picking up trash and mowing the grass along county roads, and maintaining the Hall County Government Center and courthouses.

“The most valuable part of inmate labor is that it is free,” said Katie Crumley, public information officer for the county. “It doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything.

“You see them in a lot of places, especially around the Hall County Government Center and that kind of thing saves us a lot of money because we don’t have to pay for a ground maintenance crew or for county employees to go out there and do the work.”

Prisoner work details provided the county with roughly $2.5 million in labor for free, Davis said.

The details help provide the inmates with work experience that will help them get a job after release, which can decrease their chances of returning to prison, Crumley said.

Are there any other natural gas providers in Gainesville beside Liberty Utilities?

No. The city of Gainesville is considered by the Georgia Public Service Commission to be a certificated service territory for Liberty Utilities, which means that in exchange for installing and maintaining the gas pipes in the city, Liberty Utilities is the exclusive natural gas provider for the area, according to Joel Ames, the company’s senior manager of sales and customer care.

In addition, Liberty Utilities holds a franchise agreement with the city that allows it to be the exclusive provider. For more information residents and customers can contact Ames at joel.ames@libertyutilities.com.

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