SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota’s Corrections Department is ending a snow shoveling program that has served the elderly and disabled for 16 years, leaving some communities uncertain as winter nears.
The department made the announcement Tuesday, a day after the first snowfall in Sioux Falls, the Argus Leader reported .
The cost of supervising the minimum-security inmates performing the community service in Sioux Falls, Yankton, Pierre and Rapid City has grown too high, said Denny Kaemingk, secretary for the Corrections Department.
Inmates would respond to shoveling calls outside regular business hours. It would often require the department to pull in correctional officers to supervise on their off-duty hours or pay them overtime, Kaemingk said.
“On nights, evenings and weekends, we’re down to essential staff already,” he said.
Staffing issues in Sioux Falls and Rapid City have put the program at risk of not responding quickly enough for residents to avoid municipal fines for unshoveled walkways.
“If we’re going to do something, we want to do it right,” said Darwin Weeldreyer, community services director for the department.
Between 350 and 400 addresses are on the list of properties statewide that need assistance clearing driveways and sidewalks, said Michael Winder, spokesman for the department.
Those in Sioux Falls who need assistance clearing driveways would connect to the agency’s service through the 211 Helpline Center. The center has a list of 90 people who are unable to shovel or pay someone to shovel. With the department ending the program, the properties have no reliable source of volunteer labor.
“They’re pretty much it,” said Janet Kittams-Lalley, the center’s director. “The Scoop It program will not be able to operate without the inmates.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com