LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The big game at War Memorial Stadium is just two days away and preparations are in full swing. Hog fans across the state are getting pumped to play our neighbors to the south.
We can expect to see Little Rock filled to the brim with Hog fanatics. But first, a lot of work goes into getting War Memorial Stadium for battle.
"There are so many things to do behind the scenes. I wish everybody knew how hard everyone is working,” said State Parks and Tourism Spokesperson Meg Matthews. A dozen or so of those workers are wearing white jumpsuits, as State Parks is getting some help from the Department of Corrections.. "It's perfectly safe. We’re really happy to see them frankly."
Arkansas State Parks and Tourism runs War Memorial. Matthews says they couldn't do it without the help of the inmates of Arkansas Department of Correction.
"Because it is a governmental agency, and we are dealing with taxpayer dollars, we want to be a good steward of those taxpayer dollars. By using inmate labor, that just makes sense,” she said finally.
The inmates are part of ADC's work release program.
"There is a high level of trust that is inherent in these programs, so we're not going to put just anybody in one of these units, just to simply fill beds,” said ADC Spokesperson Solomon Graves.
These crew members have earned a minimum security clearance and work in agencies across Arkansas, from Pinnacle Mountain to the Governor's Mansion.
"These regional maintenance crews are a way we can give back to the communities that support us and help our state agency partners and our local partners fulfill their missions,” Graves said, adding that the partnerships save the state thousands of dollars each year. “Since January of this year, those crews have averaged 45,000 work hours throughout the state."
These workers fill sandbags for natural disasters, clean up hiking trails, even work in the steel industry. Then Sunday, shortly after sunrise, several dozen of those Arkansas inmates, clad in white jumpsuits, will make their way across the street from War Memorial Stadium to the golf course, where they'll clean up all the stuff Razorback fans left behind.
And there's a lot more in it for the inmates than just fresh air and sunshine.
"Every dime they earn goes into their saving's account, and that money can be withdrawn to support dependents they have in the community, help pay bills back home, but the bulk of it is sitting there and when they are released, they parole out, when they discharge out, they're able to have that resource that a lot of inmates in their positions don't,” Graves said.
The golf course at War Memorial will reopen Sunday afternoon. Meaning the inmates will have a busy morning ahead of them.