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COMMUNITY SERVICE: More than a punishment

October 16, 2013

Whitley County’s Community Corrections has served the area in many ways, from cleaning parks to putting yellow paint on curbs. Thor Hodges, pictured, has overseen the work crew for the past six years. Post & Mail photo / Nicole Ott

COLUMBIA CITY — While many view court-ordered community service as punishment, more positives than negatives come from the work crew, according to its leader Thor Hodges.

Many have seen the yellow community service van around Whitley County, at the schools, working in the streets and parks, but Hodges said there are misconceptions about the people working on those crews.

“They’re not bad people,” Hodges said. “They’re people who have made a mistake and were ordered to do community service for it.”

The people on the community service crews are not from the jail, but most come from home or the work release center.

“Very rarely do I have anyone who’s committed a violent crime,” Hodges said. “It’s mostly people charged with drugs, alcohol or probation violations.”

The crews have been working hard this summer, and their efforts were touted at a recent Columbia City Common Council meeting.

Hodges’ groups spent 22 full days applying yellow paint to the street curbs for “no parking zones,” and spent a substantial amount of time at Morsches Park, raking pine needles off the Blue River Trail.

Both Street Department Superintendent Kelly Cearbaugh and Parks Director Mark Green said the community service crews’ work was appreciated.

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