Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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May 1, 2013

City uses trusty labor to help clear brush from area alleys

Trusty: 'We do this to better ourselves'

JACKSONVILLE — The same Texas Department of Corrections trusty crew that helped patch up the city's recreation center in early April was hard at work again Tuesday, clearing thick brush from Jacksonville alleyways to make entry and exits more accessible for city garbage collection.

“They've been there since last week,” explained Mo Raissi, Jacksonville City Manager. “They're clearing all the shrubs and debris in these alleys and making them passable.”

And judging from the high level of foliage in a few alleyways, this group had quite a lot of work to do.

Will Cole, the city's director of Public Works, said these trustys are the same ones from before, housed at the TDC's Skyview unit in Rusk, presided over by Warden Tommy Haynes.

“They're the same crew doing a different job,” Cole said. “They're cleaning the alleys and cutting all the brush back. There are quite a few alleys we use to collect  garbage and all that brush makes it difficult.”

The city has the trusty work crew until May 9, Cole said.

A reporter's scrutiny of the work at hand drew an impassioned comment from trusty Darrell Barnett, who told a reporter he volunteered for this duty because of his sense of community – not for any job perks.  

Barnett specifically took issue with a previous story that indicated the prisoners are volunteering only because they get fed well on the job.

“We do this to better ourselves – as well as for our families,” Barnett said.

Barnett, who has another four years to serve in prison declined to specify the charge or charges for which he was convicted.

“We don't want to scare any of them, now,” he said with a smile.

The crew is focusing on the middle part of town because that is where the dozens upon dozens of alleyways, as many as 30, are most blocked by dense shrubbery, Cole said.

All of the trimmed brush – truckload upon truckload upon truckload of it – was transported to a lot behind the Jacksonville Athletic Complex.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday the crew had dumped over 25 loads of brush there.

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