IDOC inmate volunteers help Idaho City dig out of the snow

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 00:28:47-05
Idaho City may be digging out from this latest storm for weeks.
They got some help today from inmate volunteers.
IDOC sent a dozen captive workers to help protect structures and clear roads in the historic Idaho town.
As a result, the sound of shovels will be ringing through the quiet snow covered streets of Idaho City for some time.
"They can't do it themselves, so they ask us," said inmate Jason Warden.
It is hard, cold work, but inmates like Warden are enthusiastic about the volunteer opportunity.
"It gets me away from prison and into the woods," he says. "It's a good experience.  Good for the soul."
It is also good for the town. The heavy snow is threatening the roofs of historic buildings and clogging business thoroughfares.
"There's almost two feet of snow up here," said Officer Joseph Balvin. "And the community is in desperate need as far as helping hands."
These workers are minimum security, with three years to six months left on their sentences.
Some of them, like Warden, have added incentive to help.
"I'm used to labor.  I used to live up here," said Warden, "I'm sweating in 30-degree weather, but it's nice. I like it. I feel free -- like I'm not in prison right now."
Idaho City hopes to have its streets cleared by the Annual Chili Cookoff, coming up February 18.