WESTVILLE | The inmates and staff at Westville Correctional Facility (WCC) have completed construction on a new conference table for the Commissioner of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) using mostly recycled wood from the facility.
Over a year ago, BMV Commissioner R. Scott Waddell was meeting with Governor Mitch Daniels in the Governor’s Office. He couldn’t help but admire the massive conference table, measuring 6 feet by 16 feet, in the room that commanded his attention.
The table had three foot diameter carved wooden medallions of the Indiana State Seal and the emblem of the state flag on either end. The center was dominated by a map of Indiana, with each county’s shape made of a different type of wood.
Governor Daniels explained that the table had been created by inmates and staff at the Westville Correctional Facility. The wood came from trees that had to be cut down inside the facility to improve lines of sight within the prison, and much of the labor was done by the inmates at minimal cost to the taxpayers. It is a reminder of what recycling can achieve.
A few days later, Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Bruce Lemmon asked WCC Superintendent Mark Levenhagen if the facility could design a similar table for the BMV.
WCC constructed a seven foot by seventeen foot table made of recycled spalted maple, black walnut, white pine and curly cherry. It sits on a four leg pedestal base, with a hand carved five foot center medallion of the seal of the BMV.
“We spent a great deal of time leveling and sanding the finish coats, since even the slightest flaw would show,” according to Maintenance Supervisor Alex McEathron, WCC’s carpenter who designed and supervised the project. “We had to make our own special 12 inch by 36 inch sanding blocks to finish the surface properly.”
McEathron has worked in the carpentry shop for some 20 years. The offenders assigned to help had to be tough and patient. They worked hard to create a flawless work product day after day, month after month. Such an enduring project meant multiple offenders would come and go and needed to be trained or retrained. The lessons learned became a form of rehabilitation and treatment for them and a significant part of their incarceration. “They developed a sense of pride in demanding perfection of themselves and their work,” according to Westville Superintendent Mark Levenhagen, “as well as recognizing that the work they completed would last far beyond the years they served in prison.”