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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

At SLI's Blue Dock:
‘Christmas in July’ coming again this Sunday, July 17th, 10:30 am


This is our second year of celebrating Christmas in July at our July 17th worship service, which will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the blue dock. Once again  we  are  collecting games/art/ activities, for children. These gifts will go to Angel Action for distribution. 

The children have been out of school for almost a month and are beginning to get “bored”. (Can you hear them, “I’m so bored – what can I do???” – Been there, done that with my own children).

We are inviting y’all (sorry about that – the southern talk slips out now and then) to bring a gift – game/sidewalk chalk/markers/books etc…. Please do NOT wrap the gifts, as children (of most ages) can come and “shop” for something creative to keep them busy for the remainder of the summer.

We will have a table set up for your gifts to help children be busy and creative as they face the rest of the summer. We invite you to place your gifts on the “Christmas table.” Thank you in advance for your donations and supporting these gifts for Christmas in July.

Wyoming Correctional Prepares for Retired Thoroughbreds:
A second chance for horses and inmates at Wyoming Correctional

ATTICA — Retired racehorses are expected to arrive this fall at Wyoming Correctional Facility, and when they do, inmates will begin to look after them.

Wyoming Correctional representatives, state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision officials and representatives of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation gathered Tuesday on the facility’s horse farm grounds to mark the completion of two barns — one for stables and one for classrooms and administrative offices. They also placed a ceremonial first fence post, signifying the final stage of work to complete the farm.

“Hopefully, in September, we’ll get our first group of horses from Kentucky and we’ll all get going from there. I think the horses will be happy, staff will be happy, the incarcerated individuals will be happy and I know the town will be happy,” said Thomas J. Sticht, superintendent of Wyoming Correctional Facility. “We’ll have community days and everybody will be happy.” (continued)

Sticht described the project to complete the barn as a work of diligence.

“It just went very well. The facility, generally, has always done a good job in everything they’ve done here,” Sticht said. “No matter what I’ve asked them to do, they’ve stepped up, more than I ever could have really ... believed they could do.”

Kim Weir, TRF events/marketing coordinator, said TRF was delighted to be at Wyoming Correctional to open its second Second Chances Program site.

“The TRF Second Chances Program is a very unique partnership between our organization — a charity devoted to retired racehorses — and the New York (State) Department of Corrections (and Community Supervision), which is providing an opportunity for our horses to live here while they are teaching the men who are at Wyoming Correctional Facility skills,” she said. “It’s a vocational training program that saves horses and changes the lives of the men at Wyoming Correctional Facility.” Weir said the program starts and ends with the care of the animals.

“The men here are going to learn everything about how to run a farm, how to take care of an animal and, through a component called the Groom Elite certification, they will learn the anatomy of the horse, the digestive system of the horse, how to recognize colic — all the practical skills that someone might need on a farm,” she said.

At the same time, they’re going to learn skills that will apply to any job they pursue, Weir said.

“They’re going to learn to be responsible, how to trust one another as a team, how to be patient, how to be empathetic,” she said.

As to the progress made on the farm, Weir said a conversation began about six years ago putting TRF horses at Wyoming Correctional.

“Over the last four years, the conversations have continued and, as of one year ago, we began, with our partners, building this barn. The transformation of this barn is hard to describe,” she said. “It was a cow barn with three walls and a dropped floor. Today, it is a four-walled barn with beautiful stalls and a gorgeous floor. It is ready for the five horses who are going to come live here this fall. I can’t say enough about the folks who worked so hard to get ready for them.”

A horse’s racing career as a thoroughbred starts when it 2 years old and usually finish when the horse is 5 or 6 years old, Weir said.

“Their life expectancy is 25 to 30 years. A horse that comes to our herd, who can’t pursue another career, he will live here until he’s 25-30 years old,” she said. “We promise he will never have a bad day. We are here for them at the end of their lives to make sure they have a peaceful ending.”

TRF Executive Director Pat Stickney said the foundation overcame a lot of hurdles and obstacles that were thrown its way, plus the pandemic.

“I think it’s a testament to how committed the TRF and the Department of Corrections is to this program,” she said. “We consider it, while rescuing horses is our mission, offering the Second Chances program is one of our highest priorities. We love this program and we’re glad the Department of Corrections stayed with us for the four or five years and their commitment to this program.”

Acting Commissioner of Corrections Anthony Annucci, who grew up in Brooklyn, said horses are an acquired taste.

“Like everybody else who starts to care for horses, you really appreciate what incredible animals they are,” he said. “There’s a way that we rediscover our own humanity when we provide humanitarian care to animals such as horses, who have given so much to us. The horses that work so hard to give so much pleasure to so many people. They deserve to be treated with a little more loyalty at the end of their lives.”

Annucci said the Second Chances Program was first opened at Walkill Correctional Facility in Ulster County. The first horse brought there was called Promised Road.

“Here we are on that road again, opening our second Second Chance location,” he said. “The word ‘second chance’ has a double meaning. It’s not just a second chance for the horses. It’s a second chance for the incarcerated population. We are about giving people an opportunity. We are about putting a human face on the incarcerated individual. We are about letting the world know that people can change, that they are more than the worst thing they have ever done in their life.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Annucci said he someday hopes to announce the opening of a third Second Chance Program in the state.

As far as inmate eligibility to participate in Second Chances, Annucci said they basically need to have a decent record, be able to work in a lower-security area of the facility.

Walkill Correctional Vocational Instructor Kelsey Kober said all the inmates there have to do is have outside clearance to be able to get outside for the program there.

“We’re about two miles from the facility, so they have to have the criteria of less than 24 months on their sentence to be able to go out and have outside clearance,” she said. “No disciplinary record, they have to be on good behavior within the facility for five years.”

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