Four Marshall County Jail inmates joined a class of 12 at the Phoenix Project Vocational Training Program graduation for deckhand training on June 24, a program in hopes of setting them up for success professional on their release.
This collaborative program was announced on April 25, sponsored by McCracken County Jail and includes inmates from Marshall and Calloway County Jails.
Marshall County Jailer Roger Ford is grateful that this opportunity is being provided to their inmates and very much hopes it will reduce the likelihood of them re-entering the system.
“I want to thank everyone involved in making the Deckhand program a reality, a special thank you to the McCracken County Jail for allowing us to partner on this most worthy project,” Ford said. “I am so proud of the inmates who participated in the classes. I congratulate them on their success and look forward to our inmates participating in future programs.
Each graduate received a certificate of completion from the Marine Way Training Center, where inmates learn skills such as welding, heating and air conditioning, electrical, and seamanship that will provide them with future job opportunities and a sense of purpose.
McCracken County Jail Lt. Arnie Puckett oversees the training program, which began three years ago, although this is the first year Marshall County and Calloway County Jails have been involved.
“There are several aspects to training deckhands,” Puckett said. “Part of that is security. There is fire training—because on a boat, if a fire breaks out on a boat, there is no fire department. There’s expectation training, and we’ve built a barge mooring replicant aft. It reproduces four different barge moorings that come together. »
“They learn how to cast the lines, tie the lines and tie them. If not properly tied down, those countercurrent tows will come loose, and you have barges that split and go all over the place.
As part of the deckhand program, inmates were also certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The deckhand training program requires 60 hours. The West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) provides instructors for the programs, and inmates earn college credits upon completion that can count toward an associate’s degree.
For Marshall County Jail, four inmates graduated from the program: Robert Grundy, Dustin Kincer, David Morris and Hunter Phillips.
McCracken County Jail partnered with three companies – Marquette Transportation Company, National Maintenance and Repair and Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel – who were in attendance for the graduation and hoped to find new deckhands for their businesses.
“The jobs are there; the industry is looking for people,” Puckett said. “It’s kind of a service that Jailer (David) Knight (of McCracken County) and this administration have put in place for the local economy.”
Kincer, a graduate of Marshall County Jail, said the program meant a lot to him. “Not everyone gives us a second chance – not just to improve you, but to improve your future, career-wise.
“There are a lot of programs floating around around anger management and addiction recovery and moral recognition therapy and things like that, but having someone career-focused means a lot to me.”
Kincer said he wants to start a career as a seaman after serving his sentence and is optimistic about the opportunity ahead. “From what I understand, it’s a well-paying job with great benefits and opportunities for advancement.”