Milw. Co. supervisor suggests HOC inmates patch potholes

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Co. Supervisor Russell Stamper suggests Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee should cooperate to fill potholes on city streets by using House of Correction inmates and those sentenced to community service to help repair streets damaged by severe winter weather.

If you're driving through Milwaukee -- you should be ready for a rough ride! This winter's bitterly cold temperatures followed by some warmer days has led to a freeze-thaw pattern, and that's leading to damage on the roads.

"Almost every block that I go, there's a pothole. It's a mess on our cars. It's messing with our suspensions, it's messing with our tires, it's tearing our cars up," Tiffany Matthews said.

Matthews is not alone.

"I've been driving through the city, dodging potholes, running right into them. It's become ridiculous," Stamper said.

Thus, Stamper has suggested that inmates and those sentenced to community service could be trained to help in street repairs. Stamper said that repair of city streets must be a priority not only because of the danger but because bad streets affect the perception of the city's diverse neighborhoods.

In a statement, Stamper said Wednesday, February 26th: "When streets are deteriorating, when potholes are present every few feet, and when streets become unsafe to travel, it not only affects perceptions of the neighborhood, it affects travel and commerce. This is a situation we simply cannot tolerate, and I hope other city and county officials agree that using inmates and those who are sentenced to community service can be part of a creative solution to this critical issue," Stamper said.

"Department of Public Works (crews) are probably busy. They're doing their job. However, they need help. They seriously need help -- and I'm trying to create ways to help assist the people that are already doing the work," Stamper told FOX6 News.

Stamper says his program is still very early in its developmental stage, but says he has already begun making contact with the appropriate folks at the city, county and state levels of government.

So, could this really happen?

"I hope so, and I'm gonna push for it. I'm not gonna stop until something happens. I'm going forward with this initiative," Stamper said.

Responding to this idea is the Executive Director of the union representing the city of Milwaukee's Department of Public Works.

He says the union agrees that the city's pothole problem is an "epidemic" that needs to be addressed, but says a solution which would involve having the city and county hire additional people to fill those potholes.