Routt County Jail celebrates 1st GED graduates
Steamboat Springs — Routt County Jail inmate Sam Wisecup Jr. will be the first to admit that he has made some mistakes.
The 29-year-old high school dropout was an alcoholic, and on March 13, he began serving an eight-month sentence for alcohol-related driving offenses.
“It was the best thing that happened to me because I thought I was going to die,” Wisecup said. “I learned my lesson. I’m ready to be part of the community.”
To do that, Wisecup knew he needed to go back to school, and he read in the inmate handbook about the GED program offered at the jail.
“I wanted to better myself, not in just my education but life goals, as well,” Wisecup said.
He and fellow inmate Oswaldo Solano Ortíz passed the five required tests making them the jail’s first class of GED graduates.
To celebrate, Wisecup and Ortíz passed out cupcakes.
“We like to see people succeed,” Routt County Jail Lt. Michelle Richardson said.
Wisecup now wants to work toward an associate degree, and Ortíz wants to work as a roofer or a cook.
The accomplishments would not have been possible without Fran Conlon, who for the past four years has been volunteering for two hours each week to tutor inmates at the jail.
“It seems to be the right thing to do,” said Conlon, a former Soroco High School English teacher who worked in education for 34 years. “I’m a retired and recovering teacher.”
Conlon wants his students to become productive members of society, and he thinks education is the key. Each week, he would meet with the students in the law library.
“Attendance is not a problem here,” Conlon said. “They want to be here studying.”
Earlier this year, Conlon was recognized by the Sheriff’s Office for his service.
In addition to assigning homework, Conlon helped prepare the students for the tests, which they took at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs and Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig. The tests cost $22 each, and Conlon secured the funding from Holy Name Catholic Church’s Good Shepherd Fund.
Conlon also is working with an inmate who is taking a college English Class at CMC.
Richardson said the jail is not set up to allow inmates access to classes online, so Conlon brings the completed homework assignments to Colorado Mountain College for grading.
“I’m a courier back and forth,” Conlon said.
Holy Name Catholic Church also is paying for that class.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Ted Lasso is one of the hottest things in TV right now. He’s kind, motivating, funny and optimistic. The world needs more Ted. Here are a few of his famous lines to ground you, make…