By John Burton
SEA BRIGHT – There’s plenty to be done as the borough continues to work its way back after Super Storm Sandy and Mayor Dina Long is glad for the help Sea Bright received from a handful of county inmates.
“There is no shortage of projects in Sea Bright,” Long said as she and representatives from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office joined seven inmates from the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold, as the inmates provided the labor for some work on the borough’s beachfront.
Five to seven inmates traveled to the borough for much of the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 1 and cleared mounds of sand; cleaned up debris and trash; shoveled sand off of walkways along the borough’s sea wall along Ocean Avenue; and other needed work, according to Cynthia Scott, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
The group also worked on cleaning up the borough’s police headquarters that had been damaged in the late October storm, Long noted.
The seven men, clad in orange jumpsuits, were stringing a length of dune fencing on Thursday, Jan. 31, along a section of beach located behind the borough hall and the former Donovan’s Reef bar site on Ocean Avenue.
The fence is being erected in a zigzag pattern along that stretch to catch shifting sand and to build up the dunes. It’s an important step in helping rebuild the beaches, Long said.
The mayor was happy to get the help. “We’re real lucky that Monmouth County has this program,” Long said.
Over the last few weeks crews from the sheriff’s Inmate Labor Program have been working in Belmar and Bradley Beach, helping with those towns’ recovery and cleanup efforts. They are scheduled to be in Millstone the next week, Scott said.
“I think this program is a good opportunity to help these towns” impacted by Sandy, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said in a phone interview.
The sheriff’s office has had the labor program for about 10 years. During his time as sheriff, Golden, who was elected in 2010, said he has increased it, with an average of three crews of five to eight inmates each, out in the field in any given week.
The sheriff’s office operates the county’s 1,328-bed correctional facility and permits inmates incarcerated for minor offenses, usually first-time offenders, to participate in the program. It allows the inmates access outside of the facility, usually for five to six hours a day, and permits them to accumulate credits which could result in an overall reduction of their sentences, Golden said.
The workforce is available at no cost to the communities, according to Scott.
Sea Bright has benefitted from the program previously with crews coming to the borough to participate in the annual spring Project Clean Shores program, according to Long.