Racine inmates helping shovel snow for Big Chill event

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RACINE -- Following last Thursday's snowfall, and the additional blanket of snow southeastern Wisconsin saw on Tuesday, many may be feeling like they've had about enough of moving the piles around! That's not the case in Racine, where a group of county inmates are grateful for the opportunity to dig in and help out, as Racine prepares for the Big Chill event this weekend.

Racine has six Huber work release inmates from the Racine County Jail, who are actually enjoying the days they'll spend in the cold working with snow. Jeremy Collins is one of the six who are helping with snow sculptures for the Big Chill event being held in Racine this weekend. "It feels good to be out here, helping the community and just giving back," Collins said.

The inmates are responsible for construction of columns, which will be used during the Big Chill event's statewide snow sculpting competition. The annual event takes place in Racine's Monument Square.

Jeff Shawhan is the event's chairperson. He explains the labor source saves organizers about $1,000 which essentially, saves the event. "It would almost be an impossible thing to do financially," Shawhan said. Thanks to the help of the inmates, the event is possible, and area business owners say they're grateful for the effort and say it adds to their excitement. "I actually talked to a couple of them. They're not bad guys at all. I mean, maybe just a couple of bumps in the road, so now they've got to do their time," one business owner said.

With all the effort involved in building 19 9,000-pound snow columns, you might be surprised to learn that some of the inmates have already requested that even when they're done with their Huber sentences, they be allowed to come back next year, and volunteer to be a part of the effort, and a part of the Racine community.

The inmates have also shoveled sidewalks and end caps throughout Racine's downtown.

For details on this weekend's Big Chill event, click here.