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Inmates begin laborious task of patching roads

Published: Tue, February 25, 2014 @ 12:12 a.m.


Frank Kordupel , with flag, of the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office, supervises a group of minimum-security and day-reporting inmates from the county jail who fill potholes on South Avenue near Midlothian Boulevard. They were at work Monday. The county used four inmates from the day-reporting program to help fill potholes, which are in abundance because of the wave of freezing and thawing to hit the area.




Crews for the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office will be getting some help filling the abundance of potholes on county roads, but the head of the union that represents workers there isn’t pleased because he was never told about the arrangement.

Rich Sandberg, president of Teamsters Local 377, said he is thinking of filing a grievance over the use of a rotating crew of four day-reporting inmates from the county jail who were out Monday helping to fill potholes.

Sandberg said he is surprised because he never heard of the arrangement until reporters were calling him Monday to comment on the matter.

He said perhaps an arrangement could have been worked out if county Engineer Pat Ginnetti had come to him before and discussed the matter with him.

Ginnetti did not return several messages seeking a comment Monday.

“I was unaware of it,” Sandberg said.

Sheriff Jerry Greene said Monday a rotating crew of no more than four inmates will be helping to fill the potholes until their help is no longer needed.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Greene said. “I think it’s going to help save the county money.”

Greene said the idea was the brainchild of Ginnetti, who thought of it a couple of weeks ago.

Greene said the inmates in the day-reporting program are often sentenced for nonviolent offenses by the county courts and report to the jail for the day and often are given work to do, such as clean up or removing snow or washing county vehicles.

“It’s an excellent form of alternative sentencing,” Greene said.

Greene said the day-reporting program allows for ways for nonviolent criminals to serve their sentence and help the county at the same time, while also allowing for bed space to be freed up at the jail for violent criminals.

This winter has been rough on area roads. Heavy snowfall and very low temperatures combined with thawing has created rough stretches of road all over the Mahoning Valley.

Sandberg said he was surprised Ginnetti did not come to him because he has a good relationship with the engineer.


1questionreality(728 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Why do we go through the expense of changing the door emblems on county vehicles every time a new person is elected? Is that a State mandate?

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22muchtax(895 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Rich Sandburg is obviously a DB, he wants to file a grievance because sheriff green wants to allow prisoners to do some work rather than sit around and watch tv. Mean while Richs union people hid e and slide having long breakfasts in obscure restaurants, go fishing, shopping and to bars around the county! good job Rich and you wonder why the people paying for all this cant stand you and unions that do everything you can to protect your job while doing next to nothing!

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3walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Where does it say that only Teamster is permitted to do the high-tech procedure of filling a pothole with cold-patch? This is good use of the taxpayers resources here and these prisoners are doing positive work in paying their debt. I applaud the sheriff and the engineer. Now, send them to Western Reserve Rd. between Market and Rte.170. I bent two rims and lost a tire on a crater there this last weekend.

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4mrblue(1175 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Hey Sandburg------at least the work will get done. And this is not a waste of taxpayers money. If you are so concerned, maybe you should pick up a shovel and help.

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5DACOUNTRYBOY(1133 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

The resurrection of chain gangs as they once existed in places like Georgia will not rest well with many politicians from Obama on down. It is but a matter of time until lawsuits are filed equating this with slavery.

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6ttup1rd(27 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Hey walter, the Teamsters have a contract with county that says that. How would you like it if the inmates came in and started doing your job, flipping burgers. I hope that section of western reserve never gets patched and you bend another rim...

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7James_S(268 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Maybe this is the "shovel-ready projects" Obama talked about?

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8Roger_Thornhill(1063 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Worthless teamsters.

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9Ypboy(64 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Just another example of the unions impeding progress.

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10cambridge(4064 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Great idea. Take a job away from a law abiding citizen and give it to a criminal.

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11walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

IF the county has a contract that stipulates ONLY a Teamster employee under contract with the County Engineer is permitted to throw cold-patch, then we have a major problem! The work is temporary work that needs to be repeated many times before a regular hot -patch can be accomplished. But, using criminals to replace Teamsters really doesn't change the situation much. Maybe they will blow-up the big rat and put it along the road! And, ttup1rd, your burger is ready, extra onions and boogers! Since I don't have a reason to take that road, I will henceforth avoid it.

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12Roger_Thornhill(1063 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

How could the criminals do any worse than the teamsters?

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13NilesOhio(986 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

If you can't get a paid employee to use a tamp, then maybe you can get a prisoner?

Stop being lazy and just throwing the patch in the hole and letting people drive over it with their cars! Tamp it down or roll it so it doesn't damage taxpayers cars.

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14Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

“I was unaware of it,” Sandberg said.

Sandberg said he is surprised because he never heard of the arrangement until reporters were calling him Monday to comment on the matter.

How do you overlook and miss the fact that one of the trucks pulls out of the shop without the normal crew of shovel leaners, maybe he was asleep.

cambridge another good idea would be making the welfare queens and kings work for their free handouts also. Or would that violate their right to milk the system for all its worth.

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15NilesOhio(986 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

To Rich Sandberg, the county shouldn't be required to cower to your perceived authority. They don't need your permission to fill holes.

If you think your precious union comes before the need of those taxpayers whom your members serve, you have your priorities seriously out of whack. But I guess this is the Mahoning Valley so logic doesn't prevail in higher offices......

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16dontbeafool(2064 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't see a problem using inmates as long as there wasn't a contract in place to use the union workers. A contract is a contract.

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17Roger_Thornhill(1063 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Then get a new contract.

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18JoeFromHubbard(1776 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Woah .... a little firestorm brewing here ?

Using inmates for this kind of work is an old idea that never seems to last long enough.

Probably too much political pressure from the unions and those who feel that work is being taken from them.

This work is never ending with plenty for all.
I'll bet that the inmates are glad to get some fresh air and develop a feeling of accomplishment.

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19DontBanThisDrone(1036 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

When was the last time you were completely unaware that somebody else was doing your job?

And how did you find out; did a reporter call and tell you?


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20DSquared(1778 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Inmates.....Teamsters....What's the Difference???

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21BabaBooeyFan(6 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

It seems it takes (7) "Union" employees to fill potholes on old 82 in Vienna.

One drove the truck with the patch, one flagger in front, one flagger in back, one to literally just throw the patch into the pothole, one to kind of make sure the patch "goes into" the pothole, one to "tamp" or go through the motions of tamping and the last one to drive another truck in front of the flagger in the rear, which makes no sense.

Talk about a WASTE of taxpayers money!!

Way to go Trumbull County Engineers.

I know, your employees work "hard" for their paychecks.

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22JoeFromHubbard(1776 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

@ BabaBooeyFan:

Another way to look at it:

We tax payers work hard for "their money."

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23CongressWatcher(225 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Wait! Wait! Wait! I got it. What if they just make the working prisoners pay their share of union dues?

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24kurtw(1759 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Bizarre. Seems like we have enough potholes to go around for everybody- we need all the help we can get.

This kind of baloney is the reason I won't be supporting the up-coming sales tax increase
proposal. Do we need Unions in the Public Sector? Answer: No.

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25JoeFromHubbard(1776 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Today is Thursday, 27 FEB, and I didn't see anyone on Albert Street working on the enormous number of pot holes.

Probably too cold for the union.

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26vinglass(295 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Three Boardman road dept employees sat in their truck from 8am to 8:40 am yesterday morning at the corner of Marinthana and Woodview. They were eating their breakfast and drinking coffee. Finally one guy got out of the truck and started filling a pothole. This is our tax dollars at work..

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27ttup1rd(27 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Great job Rich Sandberg and the Teamsters # 377. The issue has been settled with the engineer and there will NO LONGER BE PRISONERS PATCHING THE ROADS !!!!

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28YtownParent(998 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

And voters will no longer be approving any sales tax renewals.

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2976Ytown(1344 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Business as usual in Youngstown dictated by the unions, money and greed. No common sense here...

Would rather pay unions to s-l-o-w-l-y do the work while everyone suffers the dangers of potholes in the roads rather then have inmates pay restitution helping patch the potholes to get the job done.

Note that in many states, inmates are part of the fire lines, road crews, farming, cleaning parks, etc. http://www.governing.com/topics/publi...

"Cal Fire and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation operate 42 adult and two Division of Juvenile Justice conservation camps that house more than 4,000 inmates, according to corrections officials.

Inmate firefighters are Cal Fire's only hand crews. They often work in remote, rugged terrain during and after fires.

"It feels good to help and to give back," said an inmate firefighter who didn't want to give his name. "I don't know if I would want to do this when I get released, but right now it gets me out from behind the walls. " http://www.sbsun.com/general-news/201...

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30columbus1(7 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I was in Youngstown last week for a funeral. My lord Midlothian does not have pot holes, the whole road is disintegrating! I had to drive down the middle of the 4-lane road just to avoid most of the pot holes. Boardman, what happened? your roads are just as bad. I don't buy the "cold weather theory" either. We have had just as bad, if not worse cold weather in central Ohio and more snow. We have pot holes but they have crews out patching them till spring. We do not have road completely falling a part which leads me to believe one of two things when the roads were paved: sub-standard materials were used or they used a lower grade of asphalt not designed for highways to safe money.

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312muchtax(895 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Rich Sandburg is a complete DB! Prisonors go back to sitting around and county engineers go back to long breakfast, long breaks, fishing, shopping and hiding and sliding! 4 county workers walk into Corner resturant in a hurry to the very back of unused side of resturant@ 9am and eat breakfast! Not sure what bar they now hit early on Fridays! This dept should be privatized. Mean while the county looks terrible!

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32mouse(112 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

You union people just don't get it. We can't afford to pay the dollars you expect for doing your job during snow storms etc.
You complain about prisoners doing your job well, in the past people who received welfare had to work for the city to pay it off. It's about time they get their butt off the couch & start working for it again.
I am fed up with keeping people who think it is their right to do nothing in return.

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33NilesOhio(986 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

@ttup1rd - And that's the solution you want? I'd like to see people work for the money they're paid. If the paid workers aren't part of the solution, the're part of the problem.

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34lajoci(670 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Another good reason to keep the jail cells full!

Corrections Corporation of America and other for-profit prison businesses need to keep those cells full, and we need shovels on the roads!

Maybe we can think up a few more high crimes and misdemeanors to get the jail populations to the point where road-gang bosses have their "pick of the litter," as they say!

(Does anyone else smell the little stinkies called "conflict of interest" here? It's bad enough that we're turning over what used to be societal responsibilities to the private, for-profit sector, regardless of the implicit conflicts of interest; but now, here we go, using a prisoner labor force in non-emergency projects. Bad idea, people. Bad, bad idea.)

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35Irishtiger(51 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

I think it's a GREAT IDEA. But I knew all the anti-Union people would be puking all over this one. You people do me a favor. You non-Union cry babies picture someone coming in to do your job with a prison record. Then whine all you want. Doesn't feel quite the same now, does it??

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36NilesOhio(986 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

"non-Union cry babies"?

If I sat around doing nothing all day, then I deserve to lose my job. How are these workers above being dismissed for theft? That's what they're doing if they aren't doing their jobs that they're getting paid to do.

And I bet you wonder why there aren't new businesses moving into the Mahoning Valley. It's this lazy, union mentality that strangles this whole area. Granted, not all union people are lazy, but many I've worked with fit that bill and then some.

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37ttup1rd(27 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

@ nilesohio cry-baby, what makes you such an expert on what the county workers do all day? What do you do for a living? I guarantee not one of you cry baby's on here can work with those guys, 95% of the workers are in there 50's and 60's and shoveling 80 TONS of hot mix a day, every day. So I don't know where you are getting your information from but until you get your facts straight I suggest you shut your mouth !!!!

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38NilesOhio(986 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

@ttup1rd - As soon as I can drive down a road in Mahoning County at the speed limit without separating belts in my tires or breaking tie-rod ends, I'll shut my mouth. What makes me an expert? I'm a taxpayer.

When I see county "workers" out in their trucks, most of the time the only thing I see them shoveling is food and coffee into their mouths.

And when they do eventually get around to throwing patch into a hole, they don't bother to tamp it down or anything. They just let all their employers (taxpayers) drive over it with their cars because they're too lazy to tamp anything down. If they can't handle the physical demands of the job, then they shouldn't be doing that job.

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39NilesOhio(986 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Here it is over FOUR MONTHS LATER, and there are still potholes and very poorly patched roads all over the place.

This entire union should be sued for breach of contract due to incompetence.

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