Prison to educate community, recruit workers at EXPO

A sign that Oregon Department of Corrections will use at the Lake County EXPO this year in an effort to recruit people to work at the prison is displayed.

Wanting to let people know what they do and how they can become a prison guard, recruiters from the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODC) and representatives from Warner Creek Correctional Facility (WCCF) will be at the annual Lake County EXPO.

The ODC does not view the event as a hiring event, but more as a general recruitment event to let the public know what happens at WCCF.

“This is more for general recruitment than a hiring fair,” said Kelli Ketchum, social media recruiter for ODC.

They are looking to explain what type of positions they typically hire for outside of correctional officers, including nurses, educators and other support staff.

With the lengthy background checks it takes for correctional officers, Ketchum and Stephanie Johnston, management assistant at WCCF, are seeking interested applicants. It can take several months before someone is hired as a correctional officer, as there is a 10-year background check of their history; where they lived, where they worked, and more. Also there are lengthy interviews with a background investigator as well.

Even though they want to introduce WCCF’s work, they want to let people know the prison is always accepting applications as well. One of the goals Johnston has is to point out to the public different services the WCCF provides in the community.

They have expanded into new areas over the past year. One of these is a wood program, which chops firewood that the County delivers to residents that need firewood but are unable to afford it.

The other program that recently began uses adults in custody to shovel driveways in the area. Other areas of work for adults in custody include a wood shop where they make products and signs. One of the recent items produced was a new sign for the Lakeview High School Music building, replacing the older sign that was worn out. Adults in custody at the prison made the sign, based on a design that was submitted by the school.

Other areas include a nursery where they grow native plants from seedlings that are then shipped out to different parts of the Great Basin Desert to be used for habitat restoration. This helps the land bounce back and keeps out invasive species, especially after a fire. Recently WCCF sent around 50,000 native sagebrush and bitterbrush to California to help the National Forest Service and the BLM restore habitat after a fire, a process which can take decades if left on its own.

Also the prison is going to highlight how they are one of the most efficiently-run prisons in the state in terms of energy usage, as most of their energy comes from renewable geothermal and therefore off-grid from traditional power supplies, saving the state money.

The Lake County EXPO is on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Lake County Fairgrounds from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

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