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Oakwood employee gains correctional certification
In March, Oakwood’s Public Works Department employee Randall Kimbrell will take on a new position as the city’s first certified corrections officer. - photo by SARA GUEVARA


Oakwood city employee Randall Kimbrell talks about his training to become a certified correctional officer.

Oakwood doesn’t have a jail, but it has its first certified correctional officer.

Randall Kimbrell, a 16-year public works employee with the city, earned the certification after Basic Correctional Officer Training at the Georgia Corrections Academy in Forsyth.

He now is preparing to lead a four-man inmate labor crew on clean-up details around the city, work that could begin in early March.

"I’m excited and a little bit nervous at the same time," said Kimbrell, 36. "It’s a big change."

It’s also a long way from where he started in his work life. A Hall County native, he dropped out of high school and went to work putting up mini-storage warehouse doors.

He later spent nine months at Gainesville Parks and Recreation department in a part-time job, cutting grass and weeds. Kimbrell wanted full-time work, but nothing was open in Gainesville at the time. A supervisor pointed him toward a job in Oakwood.

"I came down here and put a job application in on Friday and I started work on Monday," Kimbrell said.

On the new job, "I did a little bit of everything," he said. "The most important thing was (as) the trash man."

Kimbrell, who has since earned his general equivalency diploma, learned to drive some equipment and handle other tasks.

The city was smaller then and Kimbrell recalled then-City Manager Jimmy McCauley helping him with some work.

"I’ve got to thank that man for a lot. He taught me a lot," Kimbrell said.

In earlier days, city workers picked up trash one day a week. The city later added a recycling day and other duties as it expanded its boundaries and added residents.

Before long, it was clear "we needed more help ... without spending a whole bunch of money," Kimbrell said.

Kimbrell stepped forward to pursue the corrections certification, which began the week before Christmas and then resumed after Christmas for four weeks of basic training in Forsyth.

"A lot of it was classroom," he said of the experience. "That last week, you got (instruction in) defensive tactics — that was pretty tough. You’ve got to be ready for all that. (There is) some running and now they have a physical program you have to pass."

Students, wearing a pressed uniform, had to be in formation at 7:30 a.m. and in class until 4:30 p.m., then back in formation from 8:30-9 p.m., each day.

"When you graduated, you had to march in the auditorium and sit down," Kimbrell said.

Kimbrell’s graduation ceremony was Jan. 22.

He expects the inmate work to start in early March, picking up inmates each weekday from the Hall County Correctional Institute at 1694 Barber Road.

"Most of what we’ll be doing is right-of-way (clean-up)," Kimbrell said.

He said he’s not sure about whether his pay will increase because of the new job.

"But I can’t complain about the money," he said. "It’s a good-paying job. At least I’ve got a job. A lot don’t (in the recession)."

Avery Niles, warden of the correctional institution, spoke earlier this month to Oakwood City Council about the new effort with the city.

"I hope and pray Oakwood will be better because of the relationship we have entered," he said.

At that meeting, Patti Doss-Luna, assistant city manager, said the arrangement "is a really great opportunity" and that she was proud of Kimbrell.

"He has worked so hard on this," she said.