Home Correction letter Letter: My time spent working with Sheriff Bowler informs my vote | Letters to the Editor

Letter: My time spent working with Sheriff Bowler informs my vote | Letters to the Editor

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To the Editor: For the past seven years, I have worked closely with Sheriff Tom Bowler as a member of his staff at the Berkshire County Jail and Reformatory.

During this time, I found Sheriff Bowler to be a strong man of integrity and strong moral fiber. He is a leader for example who is committed to the safety and security of Berkshire County and is willing to seek new initiatives to treat, train and educate our prison population.

I was fortunate to lead an innovative program to create, design and build the first of its kind aquaponics lab at the prison which now provides education and training to inmates while serving our community. Aquaponics uses fish waste to grow leafy greens hydroponically. With the support and supervision of Sheriff Bowler, we built a state-of-the-art 60-by-72-foot greenhouse, which houses over 2,500 tilapia fish and 4,500 heads of lettuce and other leafy greens. Outside we have 40 raised vegetable beds, 25 fruit trees, 35 blueberries, four beehives and a large perennial garden. All of this was built at no cost to the state, prison, or taxpayers.

Our inmates are involved in all aspects of this growing facility. They learn how to cultivate and all that is necessary to ensure a successful harvest. Aquaponics is STEM and STEAM education on a silver platter. Our inmates are engaged in the day-to-day operation and management inside and outside the greenhouse which operates 24/7/365. It gives them a purpose. They learn to be an engaged member of a team, to develop a work ethic, to live up to expectations and to be part of something much bigger than themselves. They leave with skills they never imagined. Of the 40 or more who have passed through our establishment, many are now successfully employed in our community.

Since March 2020, we have grown, harvested and donated over 220,000 heads of lettuce, as well as basil, kale, arugula and a variety of other vegetables across Berkshire County through our volunteer network.

We also developed a curriculum for Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield High, and Taconic High to enhance their educational experience. It’s the sheriff’s office that helps the community. Sheriff Bowler is committed to his community.

Please join me on September 6 in voting for another term for Sheriff Tom Bowler.

Robin McGraw, South Egremont