At its regular meeting Thursday, the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center board voted to move forward with a plan from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 10 to use inmate labor at the Dawkins Line trailheads in Johnson and Magoffin counties.
Dustin Gumm, agronomist with KYTC District 10 in Jackson, said that, while Johnson County is not part of his region, Magoffin County is, and his office has been given state funding to create an inmate labor crew to do repair, maintenance and beautification at the trailheads of the Dawkins Line rail trail at both ends, in Hagerhill in Johnson County and Royalton in Magoffin County.
“Transportation built those facilities and built that trail line for tourism, with the understanding that tourism would take over when completed,” Gumm said. “Since then people have changed places, new administrations, and now parks and tourism are not wanting to take those facilities over. What we’ve thought about doing was putting an inmate crew together that could go to both those facilities daily and do the maintenance.”
Gumm said the program would require hiring a full time guard to transport and supervise the crew, costs of which would be reimbursed by his office. KYTC District 10, with grant funding, would also supply the truck, hand equipment, personal protective equipment and all other necessary supplies.
Even on days with rain or snow, the inmates could be used to repaint or repair equipment indoors.
“I have a lot of work to keep those people busy,” Gumm said.
The board opted to begin advertising and taking applicants for the new position, and to enter into the agreement, pending approval of the contract from the board attorney.