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From the big house to historic homes 

GALENA – April 2, 2010 - History in Galena is more secured, thanks to work crews from the Thomson Correctional Center.

Inmates from the correctional center have performed repair and maintenance work on state-owned historic properties in the Jo Daviess County community the past several years, saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars and helping to maintain the authentic character of the Ulysses S. Grant Home Neighborhood.  The work crews have painted eight buildings, built fences, cut trees and brush, water sealed authentic wooden sidewalks, removed snow, planted flowers, removed stumps, cleaned out basements and attics, pulled weeds, and many other tasks.   

“We have not had a maintenance person for more than a year, and there would have been no way to keep up with all of the work that needed to be done here.  We appreciate the availability of the Thomson Correctional Center and the labor it provides,” said Terry Miller, manager of the Galena State Historic Sites.  “During these tough budgetary times, it’s nice to see these much needed projects being completed.”

Miller noted that other Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) facilities have supplied labor in the past for other projects, including the beautification of First Ladies’ Park just below the Grant Home and the painting of the 1862 Donegan House.  The beneficiaries of the inmates’ work are historic properties administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in Galena, including the Ulysses S. Grant Home, the Elihu Washburne House, Old Market House and Grant Park.

“Public service projects provide inmates a structured, specialized agenda that develops responsibility, self-discipline, self-respect and the importance of a good work ethic,” said IDOC Director Michael P. Randle.  “Involvement in community service enhances the ability of an offender to reenter society as a productive citizen and provides the opportunity for an offender to give back to the community.”          

Thomson work crews also have assisted the Carroll County D.A.R.E. program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in helping with setup work, mowing, trimming, brush removal, painting and other various labor activities.  In addition, the Thomson work crews have helped the Carroll County Health Department during a recent tire reclamation project, in which they unloaded thousands of used tires brought to the reclamation site.  The work crews also have helped in the relocation of the Dixon, Illinois Emergency Management Agency office and worked with the Milledgeville Development Commission in the cleanup of the viaduct on Route 40.  One of the first crews deployed assisted the Chadwick Public Library with the cleaning and removing of old books from the basement area of the town library.

“Terry Miller and I have shared numerous conversations over the past several years regarding the tremendous contributions in labor made by the Thomson inmates to Galena’s Historic sites. It’s great that they are receiving well deserved recognition,” said State Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Freeport), whose district includes the Ulysses S. Grant Home.

The state historic sites in Galena are administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and are open for public tours.  The Ulysses S. Grant Home is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; The Elihu Washburne House is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays only; and the Old Market House is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.