To mark 10 years of operations, Deer Ridge Correctional Institution held celebrations on July 11, beginning with a staff memorial dedication and flag raising by the Oregon Department of Corrections Honor Guard, followed by a ceremony inside the facility.
Attendees included local government representatives, ODOC Director Colette Peters, Deputy Director Brian Belleque, Assistant Director of Operations Mike Gower and former DRCI Superintendents Sharon Blacketter, Joe DeCamp and Rick Angelozzi. DRCI Superintendent Tim Causey served as master of ceremonies.
Staff at DRCI raised monies to fund a memorial recognizing staff members that have passed away since the opening. Officer Gary Williams and officer Justin Evans were remembered in a ceremony prior to the 10-year commencement. A white crab apple blossom tree has been planted on the grounds in their memory and a plaque created by Travis Brown of DRCI was read and benediction was given by Chaplain Ken Ball.
The ceremony began with opening comments from Peters, who reflected on opening DRCI and the excitement that builds in opening a new institution. Peters noted the dedication of staff to prepare the institution for receiving inmates in 2007 and its carryover of teamwork that continued during the recent move of the operations last year to medium side, which was inspirational.
DRCI's first superintendent, Sharon Blacketter, was a featured speaker. Blacketter also reflected on the staff by saying, "There is an inspirational saying that goes, 'It doesn't matter where you go in life, what you achieve, or what you do — what matters most is who you have beside you along the way.' What matters most are the people who signed up to bring DRCI on line and operate the facility. Our success with start-up is directly attributed to the commitment and hard work of those people, and I am forever grateful for their efforts."
The ceremony concluded with Madras Mayor Royce Embanks remarking on how the institution has been a vital community partner. Embanks commented that the staff at DRCI has positively contributed to the community in many ways and continues to do so.
A luncheon was served upstairs in the administration building, followed by tours of the medium side.