Think the fairgrounds are looking cleaner? You can thank a local convict

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- The next time you visit the Benton County Fairgrounds, you can thank local convicts for keeping it it so clean.

100,000 people, 17 acres of land, and a limited time to prepare for huge crowds.

Even though the Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo won't start for another six months, you better believe preparations are already underway the big week.

"You're busy paying bills, going to work, so this gives you an opportunity to get ahead," says Brandon Weber, a convict working at the fairgrounds.

For Weber, the job is standard, but the jail sentence is not. The former handyman is serving time for DUI not by sitting in a jail cell. Instead, he's getting the fairgrounds ready for you and your family. Weber is part of a work crew program that puts non-violent offenders to work.

"You can work off the fines and look back at what you did and say 'hey, I did that'... It makes me feel good," Weber tells KEPR.

And that "good feeling" extends to taxpayers. By using offenders like Weber for manual labor, it's allowed Benton County to save $680,000 in reduced jail costs.

Nothing is off limits. Not electrical work, or landscaping, or even repairing sections of a building that were damaged in a recent windstorm.

When that's done, Weber and the work crew will come to this track, and smooth things out so you and your family can enjoy horse racing this spring..

"I have time to spend with my family. I get to go home and see them every night. You don't have to look at them through a TV screen," Weber says.

At any given time, more than a dozen people are part of Benton County's work crew program, making the fairgrounds nicer as a whole, while saving you money in the process.