Wright County: Sentence-to-Service program hailed for success

by John Holler


When it was first initiated in Wright County, the Sentence-to-Service (STS) program was seen as a way for the county to save money in boarding prisoners since every day of work done by prisoners in the STS program resulted in a day being taken off of their sentences. However, after more than a decade in Wright County, the benefit of the program has been two-fold.

At the May 7 meeting of the Wright County Board, STS crew leader Dan McDonald told the board that program is available for a variety of projects that can benefit several different groups.

“We are available to the county, but also any city, township, school district or non-profit organization that needs work done,” McDonald said. “It has been an excellent program over the years that has allowed us to get a lot of projects done that might not have otherwise been done.”

The typical type of work that is done is labor-intensive and includes projects such as clean-up work, tree cutting, planting, painting, landscaping and small building projects. Over the past couple of months, the STS crew has done a considerable amount of work with the county parks department, but has also completed projects that included painting the a school hour at the county fairgrounds, a renewal project of the Delano baseball field, building painting at the Wright County Historical Society, tree cutting at Lions Park in Howard Lake, painting Hanover City Hall and being assigned to assist at the recent Buffalo Clean-Up Day recycling event.

McDonald said the STS crew saves thousands of dollars for every project it works on as opposed to have to pay outside groups to perform the work the STS crew completes and that it is available to perform work projects throughout the year.

Board Chair Pat Sawatzke said the STS program has been one of the more successful work programs in the county and has been a win-win for both the prisoners who work time off their sentences and the jurisdictions that get projects done without spending heavily to do it or to postpone or put of doing the projects completely.

“This has been an excellent program for the county, cities and townships,” Sawatzke said. “A lot of projects get completed each year because of this program. Those crews are very efficient at what they do. I’ve seen the crew in action before and they’re working hard. They’re doing a lot of good for a lot of different people.”

In other items on the May 7 agenda, the board:

APPROVED the budget committee of the whole minutes, which reviewed the 2012 final revenue/expenditure guidelines. The county took in $894,516 more than anticipated and the general fund expenditures came in $3.1 million under budget.

SET a transportation committee of the whole meeting for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 21. The meeting was expected to be held May 14, but there was a conflict a Minnesota Department of Transportation spring safety conference, which will be attended by several county highway department employees.

MET in closed session following the regular board meeting to discuss a grievance received for members of Teamsters Local 320, which represents the county’s human services employees. The employees have authorized a strike vote if no action in regard their union contract. The union believes it deserves a better contract than the one being offered by the county.

SET a building committee meeting for 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 22, to discuss options for converting areas from the old county jail in the county courthouse into office space for other county departments.

APPROVED payment to the firm of Madden Galanter & Hansen in the amount of $18,814 for work performed in union negotiations with an arbitration between the county and sheriff’s department employees

AUTHORIZED signatures on agreement between the county and the Minnesota Department of Corrections to hold work release inmates. The program started in 2012 and the MnDOC pays the county $55 a day to board prisoners at the Wright County Jail who live and work in the county under the work release program.

APPROVED the annual seasonal road sweeping equipment bid to T&S Trucking at a rate of $72 an hour. In April when the highway department’s seasonal bid awards were approved, the road sweeping contract was omitted from the list, but was part of the overall bid package.

ANNOUNCED that bids for highway rumble strip projects for the summer will be opened at 9 a.m. Friday, May 24. Federal safety grant dollars account for 90 percent of the overall cost of the inclusion of rumble strips on county highway construction projects.

AUTHORIZED Commissioners Charlie Borrell, Mark Daleiden and Christine Husom to attend a Joint Ditch 15 meeting with Meeker and McLeod counties for either 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 29, or 9 a.m. Thursday, May 30, in Cokato. The two dates will be presented to the two other county boards to see which date works best for them.

APPROVED a federal boating enforcement supplemental grant for $8,875. The grant will allow the county to increase the number of water patrols on county lakes on weekends during the spring and summer months.


Contact John Holler at [email protected]