AK DOC Today

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

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!

Spring Creek Interdepartment Medical Emergency Response Training

Several medical and security staff from Spring Creek Correctional Center along with the Alaska State Troopers & Federal Forestry attended training provided by the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services “Bleeding Control for the injured (B-Con). Participants were taught skills to control bleeding of an seriously injured person. Students performed hands on training and applied tourniquets to control bleeding on one another, pressure dressings, and filled wounds to stop the bleeding. Also as an aid to the training was a simulated bleeding wound station setup that kept bleeding until the dressing was applied correctly. This was great training for many agencies for their work place as well as their efforts in public safety and emergency response.

Spring Creek Correctional Center Employee of the Year

Spring Creek Correctional Center is happy to announce that Officer Jeremy Sandy has been selected as the Spring Creek Correctional Center Employee of the Year!

Jeremy is an exceptionally enthusiastic and competent officer and a total pleasure to work with. He has a positive “can do” attitude, is well liked throughout the facility and is well supported by his team in the Segregation Housing Unit (House 1). It takes a good communicator and a skilled (and patient) officer to work with this population and he does it exceptionally well. Officer Sandy is a role model for professionalism for all who work with him as his dedication and drive is of particular note. His commitment is evident in all he does and he can relied upon to do the job right the first time. Often times many staff, particularly new staff who are still under field training in the segregation unit, will look to him for advice and the working knowledge to succeed in this tough environment. Even as a fairly junior officer with only about two years of service he has completed the Range Officer course, is on the Spring Creek Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and strives to better himself on a daily basis. Officer Sandy is usually one of the first to respond in an incident and is physically and mentally tough enough to handle each situation with consummate professionalism as well as an outstanding attitude!

Spring Creek VoTec Cabinet Donated to Seward High School

Spring Creek Correctional Center has developed a strong partnership with the Seward Community. Over the past few months the inmates have been able to donate to Seward High School through fundraisers and hobby craft donations. The Booster club spearheaded by SCCC’s very own Sgt. Brian Morris approached the Vocation Department with a request to build a cabinet for the Athletic Department. SCCC’s newly graduated NCCER Carpentry Level One students built a 60″ x48″ x 24″ cabinet to meet the needs of Seward HS. The cabinet will be put to immediate use for the high school Annual Seward Seahawk Classic! Merchandise will be sold to help support the Athletic Department for years to come. SCCC would like to thank the Seward Booster Club and SCCC Administration for making this all possible. “Measure twice cut once.”

Carved Baleen Donated to Veterans Museum

Stephen “Sonny” Foster is an Inupiaq Native from White Mountain, Alaska. He has two relatives who were in the ATG that he remembers -his great grandfather Alex Ashenfelter and son Roy Ashenfelter. The tribe they are from call themselves the “Fish River Tribe” more than likely because they lived along the Fish River or they named the river after the tribe, no one really knows but it is fitting for them and have carried the name on proudly.

As a child he was introduced to the Native Art of carving and scrimshaw from his elders. They carved to decorate their homes in the winter months. Everyday household items were carved as well as small trinkets that adorned their parkas and sleds. Carving of animals is believed to embody the spirit of the animal. Only in the recent past has Sonny begun to use Baleen as a medium to express his artistic talents. He has previously only used pencil and paper.

Currently he is using the art of scrimshaw as a way to create pieces to honor and memorialize the people of Alaska. The scrimshaw was traditionally done with a sharpened piece of bone from the front shin of either caribou or moose as it is the hardest bone in order to support the animals’ antlers and head. And, since the invention on nails, his people have used sharpened instruments to crate art. His technique of layering dots to create the image he desires is unique and is amazing in its precision.

Sonny says he “really enjoyed doing this piece of art for the ATG and gained happiness through knowing it will bring countless smiles to peoples’ faces when they see it.”

Spring Creek DSST Exams

Spring Creek inmates stand with certificates recognizing their achievement in passing DSST exams. DSST exams are credit-by-examination tests that can be used by non-traditional students as a means of earning college credits. T.I.M.E, an inmate-led club at Spring Creek overseen by President Jerry Douglas OB# 331809, has recently begun sponsoring the exam fee for inmates who wish to take the exam. Additionally, T.I.M.E , has begun amassing a library of text books, allowing inmates to study for and take the exams, who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Education Coordinators at SCCC oversee the library and proctor exams for inmates when they are ready to test. Of the four inmates who have tested, all have passed their exams. To commemorate this achievement and give the students a tangible representation of their accomplishment, I/M Jerry Douglas and I/M Mike Lawson #226446, also a member of T.I.M.E, designed certificates that could be awarded to students after they pass an exam. In the photographs: I/M Keane Crawford # 452346, I/M Jerry Douglas #331809, I/M Michael Adams #420987, and I/M Benjamin Rucker #514531 all hold their certificates.

Spring Creek Share Campaign Silent Auction

Spring Creek Correctional Center held its annual Alaska Share silent auction on November 18th and 19th. Each year, the silent auction has gotten better and better, and this year was no exception . All of the items up for bid were donated by generous staff members and local businesses. Among the many amazing items up for bid this year was a Resurrection Bay Tour with lunch on Fox Island for two people, donated by Kenai Fjord Tours. Pilot and Mental Health Clinician III, Dennis Perry donated an hour long flight-seeing tour on his Cessna 180 float plane. Robert Pack, a CO II at SCCC, donated three halibut fishing trips on his boat. Other items up for bid included beautiful handmade crafts and jams, clothing, knitwear, quilts, and a two night stay in a fully equipped cabin with a hot tub. SCCC would like to thank everyone who donated or bid on items at this year’s silent auction. Because of you, the auction was a huge success, generating over $4300 for the Alaska Share charitable giving campaign!

Auction Items on Display

Items Up For Bid at the Spring Creek 2015 Alaska Share Silent Auction