The transformation of Petersburg’s Post Office has not only given the building a facelift, but also lifted the spirits of the employees and community.
Earlier this year when it was inspected, the post office reportedly got a failing grade by the Postal Inspector. But, that’s all changed now, thanks to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s work program for jail inmates and Gary Steger, maintenance supervisor.
Original estimates for the painting alone, not including repairs, were $4,700, Steger said. But, the work crew did the job for $1,890, including some extra work over and above what was required of them.
“Inside it was a disaster,” said Steger.
After they painted the building inside and out, they built a desk for packages, constructed a roof over the loading door, pressure washed the parking lot, replaced old fluorescent bulbs with white bulbs, striped the parking lot and added a handicapped parking space, made a crosswalk to the post office, cut a step into the high curb to make it easier for elderly folks to step up, added a sprinkler system, landscaped and more.
A mural of a Pony Express horse and rider was painted by one of the former inmates, but paid for by Steger personally.
“We’re tickled … the morale has just skyrocketed,” said Melissa Cantrell, OIC, adding, “and it’s helped the morale of the town.
“It’s an amazing job they’ve done,” she added.
Now that the post office is finished, the crew has begun working on other buildings in town, doing projects that Petersburg may have not had in their budget otherwise.
While working on the post office, the crew also pressure washed the gazebo in the town square and cut additional steps into the high curbs around the square. They also repaired five major leaks at the community center on High Street.
Some of the projects they have already initiated and other projects they plan to begin include replacing the shingle roof on the fire department with a metal roof, replacing a roof on the storage freezer and repairing sections of the gym floor in the community center. They also have plans to repair the old jail and build a patio outside the community center’s gym.
Steger looks in his notebook where he keeps a running total of how much the program has saved for Lincoln County and says, “Right now, we’re at $1,130,072 … That’s the savings to the taxpayers.”
So far, Steger explained, there have been 178 inmates in the program, and only 22 have returned to jail, crediting the program for the good results. He has also assisted in job placement for inmates who have served their time.
“I’ve found 32 jobs for inmates,” Steger said.
He credits Sheriff Murray Blackwelder with starting the program.