decorations for citys Bicentennial
Hall, Brown Gym
to be decorated like they were in 1909
(May 2009) Women offenders at the Madison
Correctional Facility volunteered to help the Madison Bicentennial Celebration
Committee make buntings and banners to adorn City Hall and Main Street
in downtown Madison, Ind.
The women, part of a special project at the correctional facility, have
worked four evenings a week for almost a month to get the special decorations
ready in time for the 200th birthday celebration for the city.
by Konnie McCollum
from the Madison
Correctional Facility used seven
bolts of cloth, or more than
1,200 feet of material, to make
bunting and banners to bedeck City
Hall, the Brown Gym and Main Street.
We are so thrilled to have these women helping us,
said Jan Vethrus, chairperson of the Madison Bicentennial Celebration
Committee. They have really put a lot of effort into this project
and have done a tremendous job.
In 1909, during the citys centennial celebration, City Hall was
draped with huge patriotic buntings. The women at the facility are recreating
the look. When finished, the decorations will hang on City Hall and
the Brown Gym, and the smaller banners will run along Main Street from
Jefferson to Broadway.
It took us a couple of days to figure out exactly how to make
the pleats, said inmate Mary McClure, who learned to sew while
incarcerated. We finally got rid of the pattern and came up with
a better plan.
The 14 women were give seven bolts of red, white and blue cloth. Thats
more than 1,200 yards of material. They had to devise a strategy for
cutting each bunting, which are 17-feet long, and then pinning and pleating
them. At first, they all worked on one bunting until that was done,
but it ended up being too time consuming. The women have to have 30
large bunting and 53 smaller banners completed by June 1, so city workers
can install them before the 200-hour party.
We dont know how long the decorations will be up,
said Vetrhus. If they hold up under the weather conditions, wed
like to leave them in place until fall, when the Bicentennial Musical
and the Bicentennial Train Excursion are conducted.
Inmate Kim Bennett finally came up with the best method. She divided
up the jobs and assigned people tasks. Things have run smoothly
since we started working on specific things, she said.
Bennett and McClure are part of the Growth, Responsibility, Integrity
and Purpose, or GRIP, project at the facility. During GRIP, offenders
who qualify for the program all live in a community together, apart
from the other inmates. They do an intense, in-patient substance abuse
program that requires community service, said Jennifer Saroka, public
information officer at the facility. Not everyone is eligible
for this program because of its intensity and duration, she said.
For those that do qualify, we have a great success rate at this
time, with rare recidivism once they leave our facility and go back
into the community.
All of the offenders agreed they were thrilled to be working on the
sewing project for the city. It makes me feel good to help the
community, said McClure, a GRIP mentor.
I enjoy giving back to the community, said Debbie Benson,
who is also a GRIP mentor. Its nice to help people out.
Facility Superintendent Jan Davis stated, I am proud of
our GRIP Unit for taking on this project. Our offenders truly
feel honored to play a role in Madisons Bicentennial.
For more information about the Madison Bicentennial
Celebration or to become a volunteer for the celebration, visit: www.MadisonBicentennial.com.
Back to May 2009 Articles.