Davison County uses inmate program

The Davison County Commission decided to use a state inmate work program and save thousands of dollars during its Tuesday meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell.

The Davison County Commission decided to use a state inmate work program and save thousands of dollars during its Tuesday meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell.

Discussing furniture purchases for the new North Annex building - which will host commission meetings later this year - the commissioners approved a motion to have work completed by Pheasantland Industries, of Sioux Falls.

Pheasantland Industries is a branch of the state inmate work program, which puts inmates to work to occupy their time, teach them job skills and help them establish a work ethic. The program’s work is done cheaply for nonprofits, state and local government agencies and state employees.

The commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of six custom-made tables for $4,500 and also approved having Pheasantland re-cover 50 chairs at $36 apiece for the new meeting room at a total cost of $1,800.

“Our initial furniture quotes were many, many thousands of dollars more than that,” Commissioner Randy Reider said. “To find something functional and a cost savings, that’s a wonderful deal.”


Director of Pheasantland Industries Darold Diede said the current table in the Davison County Commission meeting room at the courthouse was custom made by inmates. Besides woodwork, the inmates at Pheasantland Industries also build cabinets and countertops and perform restoration and reupholstering, among other duties.

“The number of inmates in the custom furniture shop is around 17 inmates at any given time,” Diede said. “The supervisor will train theses inmates how to do the work and they can use that when they’re released.”

Planning and Zoning Administrator/Emergency Management Director Jeff Bathke previously worked in the prison system with the counseling program. Bathke contacted Pheasantland Industries for a quote on the work and brought the totals to Tuesday’s meeting.

Bathke explained that Central Electric Cooperative, the business that previously occupied the North Annex, left behind about 80 chairs. Those chairs will now be covered in vinyl and eventually be for citizens who attend weekly county commission meetings.

Commissioner John Claggett said there’s no set date when meetings will begin at the North Annex, but getting furniture purchased and the technology installed are two hurdles that need to be cleared.

“It will be sometime this spring,” he said. “We’re hoping to get there as soon as possible.”

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:


  • Heard a quarterly report from Community Health Nurse Jenna Auch, who said there were 154 immunizations and tuberculosis skin tests performed during the quarter from October to December; a flu clinic at the Corn Palace on Oct. 15 administered 1,405 does of flu vaccine; and there were 1,879 flu vaccinations in 2013.
  • Heard a quarterly report from Welfare Director Dawn Grissom, showing the potential liability for the county’s welfare bills totaled $174,226.88 in 2013.
  • Discussed but took no action on part-time and starting wages for workers in the jail.

Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at
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