AK DOC Today

News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections

The Boots on the Ground BBQ

 

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On Wednesday, August 30, 2017 an event take place in Seward, Alaska that has not happened for a long time. Spring Creek Correctional Officers and Alaska Department of Corrections upper management had a chance to get together for some BBQ and conversation. Commissioner Dean Williams and Deputy Commissioner Clare Sullivan both attended a “Boots On The Ground” BBQ coordinated by officer liaison coordinator Aprelle McCarty.

 

The BBQ was held at the American Legion Post 5 in Seward, and graciously hosted by Michael Calhoon, who put together a pulled pork dinner, with baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad and chips.

 

The event began at 12 p.m., and it was estimated that about 50 officers took part, which is a great showing, considering some of those officers had to wake up early in order to attend before they went to work on nightshift. Other officers had to come down early from Anchorage, or the Soldotna and Kenai area, as they did not begin work until nightshift the next evening.

 

It was great seeing officers from all four shifts visiting and hanging out together, outside of the workplace. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal, which lent itself to some great conversations, ranging from work topics to Mr. Williams sharing about how he got lost leaving the White House. There would be a group of officers sitting with Mr. Williams, as well as another group sitting with Mrs. Sullivan. Sometimes there was laughter and sometimes there were questions about what the future might look like for DOC.

 

It was a successful day, and an excellent opportunity for upper management and some of those who work right in the midst of things to get to know a little bit more about each other, and work toward bringing unity and success to Alaska DOC.

 

Mr. Williams, Mrs. Sullivan, and a couple of officers ended up closing the place around 10:30 p.m. It was agreed that this was a successful event and that hopefully there will be another in the future. Mr. Williams said that he enjoyed it immensely and that it meant a lot to both of them to be able to spend this time with those officers that could attend. Officer McCarty was very grateful to Mr. Williams, Mrs. Sullivan, Mr. Calhoon, and those officers that came out to show support for the “Boots On The Ground” BBQ. She hopes this could help in the efforts to have everyone working together to make Alaska DOC and every institution, an awesome place to work.

A Little Help for Our Friends

First it was the snow. Literally tons of it. Remember January’s blizzard? And remember Seward’s state of emergency? Seward’s senior care facility of Mountain Haven sure does! Spotting the Bat Signal, Superintendent Lapinskas wasted no time sending out his team of community workers, under the supervision of Officer Estes. To begin the daunting task facing them, the prisoners first had to carve up the blizzard’s rooftop dump into 3 ½-foot blocks of snow. Then the shoveling began—and, to her credit, Officer Estes did not stand idly by. The crew was shown much appreciation for their two days of work. They were fed BBQ and pizza lunches and a thank you note, accompanied by home-made banana bread, was later sent to Spring Creek.

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In Alaska, there are about 30 seconds between the time the snow melts and the time of the complete take-over by the weeds and brush. Seward has had long-neglected spots badly in need of some clearing, so this time the entire crew of community-workers have been involved and they’ve gone out repeatedly. And this time they’ve been accompanied by Mr. Lapinskas himself, who has been working right alongside them. He and the prisoners have received a DOT safety briefing and DOT’s requests for help with certain areas around town. Their projects have included the weed-choked area around the cruise ship dock, the heavy brush along the pedestrian-underpass tunnel, and the growth along the sidewalk and the railroad tracks. Most recently, they cleared a scenic turnout on Nash Road, which once again is scenic with a view of Seward across the bay.

Referring specifically to the tunnel project and to the three stages of work performed by Spring Creek, followed by the city, and then the state, DOT manager Kevin Knotek has shown his appreciation in a letter of thanks: “All in all I feel it was an excellent example of interagency cooperation for the betterment of the community. It is my hope that increased policing will follow. Thank you SCCC for your efforts.” You’re very welcome, Seward.

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Shooting Competition at Spring Creek

On a weekend in May, SCCC
sponsored the first “Invitational 3 Gun Competition” in Limited and Tactical
Divisions. The event was open to all and attended by a healthy mix of private citizens,
army and law enforcement–and all were invited to feast on the BBQ provided by
Spring Creek’s Employee Assistance Program. 

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And the results are…

Tactical Division
1st 
Ben H. Anchorage 157.17
2nd  Pat M. SPD 170.65
3rd  Greg B. SCCC 179.24
4th  Scott C. Kenai 194.67
5th  Justin L. Anchorage 204.27
6th  Rusty T. Eagle River 227.15
7th  Josh E. Anchorage 242.31
8th  Gene V. Anchorage 294.26
9th  John W. Anchorage 301.72
10th  Nick W. Anchorage 307.42
11th  Julia W. Anchorage 327.71
12th  Darren W. SCCC 351.77
13th  Mike H. Anchorage 379.20
14th  Robert S. SCCC 677.26

Limited Division
1st 
Ben H Anchorage 148.34
2nd  Pat M. SPD 183.96
3rd  Greg B. SCCC 184.05
4th  Scott C. Kenai 201.44
5th  John W. Anchorage 250.47
6th  Patrick B. SCCC 261.91
7th  Nick W. Anchorage 262.19
8th  Julia W. Anchorage 306.14
9th  Darren W. SCCC 356.70
10th  Bobby E. Anchorage 383.65
11th  Leif B. Seward 522.62

John Lee Hooker Jr. visits Spring Creek

On a September day remarkable for its sunbursts, a member of blues royalty paid a visit to Spring Creek.

John Lee Hooker Jr., a dapper, dynamic, showman and, himself a man with a past, walked purposefully, back an forth before the guys sitting on the bleachers. And, as if on cue, the sun reached down through the high gym windows and lit everyone up. “I’m from the streets just like you,” his voice boomed. And over and over he threw out the challenge: “Why sit here and not change?”

To hook his audience, to get bodies swaying and heart rates up, the Reverend gifted us with a taste of his award-winning gospel.

He energetically moved on to biblical stories and, most powerfully, shared his own saga of three prisons, alcohol and drug addiction, that he was stabbed, that he was shot, and that he overdosed. “I once tried to rob a blind man. He beat me up.” There was laughter. There was genuine introspection. And there was a connection. And there was that Autumn sun enfolding us all.

Spring Creek’s Hobby Shop Lily Pads

There once was a boy named Nick. Nick had a kind heart and a smile for everyone. Since the tender age of 4, Nick also had leukemia. At 17, Nick lost his life to a brain tumor. But that is not how Nick will be remembered.

One day at the hospital, as the story goes, Nick saw a child struggling with an IV stand and a beautiful idea was born in his head: the Lily Pad. He pictured this child choosing her favorite, hand-painted Lily Pad, climbing aboard, and floating along as her stand was gently propelled by unseen hands. Nick died before he could complete this project in his high school’s shop class, but his classmates stepped up and helped realize his dream.

This story of the Lily Pad spread, eventually reaching the sister of Alan Burton, an inmate craftsman at Spring Creek’s Hobby Shop. With funding for materials donated by the prisoners’ Bonsai Club, five woodworkers and painters teamed up to create Lily Pads for three Alaskan Hospitals: Fairbanks Memorial, Alaska Regional, and Central Peninsula. Over the years the hobby shop members have made countless and very generous contributions to charitable causes, but nothing has motivated them more than reaching out to children. Painter David Forster chose a character from “Frozen,” a movie he has yet to see. “I painted a little flower in the snow, behind Olaf. The little flower–I believe–filled him with joy.” Haley Anthes, the manager of pediatrics at Fairbanks Memorial, wrote to Mr. Burton: “Your desire to donate these has already brought joy to the nurses who work here. I can only imagine what the children will feel when they see them.” And we can all imagine that Nick is still smiling.

Spring Creek Celebrating Staff and Summer

It was a hot one. Sprinkle in the usual stretches of moldy weather, and the summer of 2016 was still a summer to be reckoned with.

In the yard, the inmates tossed a Nerf football to the grind of the rotary mower and to the heady aroma of freshly cut grass. On the visiting-room patio, the top brass wore bright aprons and brighter smiles as they served up BBQ to all of Spring Creek’s employees, celebrating “Staff Appreciation Day.” We, “the appreciated,” enjoyed small talk, laughter, and burgers while soaking up the warming rays. Overhead, the gulls screeched as they were carried by the thermals, through the floating pollen and over the sparkling bay. But even on those lazy, hazy days of summer, life and work goes on.

Inside the RSAT mod, a new addition was being installed: an exercise bike. With less yard time available to those enrolled in this substance abuse treatment program, the woman in charge, PO Lapinskas, made it her mission to get them this piece of equipment. There were many obstacles, but, in the end, she was able to use the funds donated by the Barbell Club and accept the sweet deal made by the owner of a local business, 5th Avenue Fitness. She brought two bikes back to Spring Creek. The one for the RSAT mod hit the ground running.

And there were more summer celebrations to come. Decades and decades of experience and service were recognized as Spring Creek said “happy retirement”—aka “hello babysitting”!—to coworkers, some of whom were veritable institutions within the institution. After so many years in the business, Sgt. Al Siller was asked “will it be tough being a mere mortal?” “Being a mortal will be easy,” he answered. It’s being a stay-at-home dad that worried him!

So, we said our warm goodbyes to co workers, felt appreciated–’til we burst–by the bosses, and watched the inmates enjoy the sun. The Bonsai Club’s flower beds were eye candy and the corn stalks are still going strong, but, alas, the cantaloupes didn’t fare well. Maybe pineapples next year?

Written by Iva Cooney, PO, Spring Creek Correctional Center

Spring Creek Correctional Center Intro to Business

Back in April, thirteen inmates at Spring Creek Correctional Center started an Introduction to Business class led by inmate Michael Lawson.

Following a syllabus that he wrote himself, Mr. Lawson used a variety of textbooks to teach his students about subjects ranging from writing a business plan to bankruptcy law. The purpose of the class was to prepare his students to pass the Introduction to Business exam from DSST. DSST exams are credit-by-examination tests that act as a way for non-traditional students to earn college credits.

Over the next few months, the class lost a few students here and there, but the majority remained to take their final exam on June 15.

After what felt like a long and arduous wait for the students, the results finally came in, and they were a success!

Passing the Introduction to Business exam through DSST represents, not only a personal achievement for the inmates, but means three college credits for them as well. The general consensus of the students was positive. Inmate Hodges says, “I took my case while still being in high school, so it was encouraging to know I’m capable of completing college classes and I want to continue to get a degree.” Other comments were complimentary to education, the teacher, and TIME Club for financial supporting this opportunity.

The inmates who completed the class were left to right, Carl Thompson, Lanolan Anderson, Dillon Hodges, Sean Jeffers, Nicholas Showers-Glover, Demond Snowden, Delano Hall, Keith Ferguson, and Christopher Kirlin. Instructor Michael Lawson stands next to PO III Monica Hinders in the back row.

Spring Creek Correctional Center Employee of the Year

Spring Creek Correctional Center celebrated their Employee of the Year Luncheon at the Peking Restaurant in Seward. We had a great turnout of employees from Spring Creek and were further fortunate to have in attendance the Speaker of the House Mike Chenault.

This year’s employee of the year is Officer Jeremy Sandy who is a Correctional Officer II at Spring Creek Correction Center (SCCC) in Seward. He has been employed at the Center since March 2013 and works in the Restricted Housing Unit.

Officer Sandy is an exceptionally competent officer and a pleasure to work with. He has a “can do” attitude and is supported by his team. Communication is the key ingredient to a skilled officer and he does it well working with this population. He is admired by the examples he sets, his job performance, his integrity and his work ethic.

Officer Sandy is a role model for his peers and the new staff who are under FTO training in House One. They look to him for advice and the working knowledge to improve performance. As a junior officer, he completed the Range Officer course, is on the Spring Creek SORT Team, and strives to better himself on a daily basis. Officer Sandy is often the first responder in an incident and is physically and mentally strong to handle the situation with excellent professionalism and with an extraordinary attitude.

Often this work environment can have a dismissal and negative atmosphere, but SCCC strives to shine a little light on the men and women of Corrections who work to keep the community safe.

Congratulations SCCC and Officer Sandy! We appreciate you!