Dover Days House gets makeover with help from inmates

From right, Carl Barker, director of Delaware Correctional Industries, Delaware Department of Justice Commissioner Robert M. Coupe, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and Kim Coury, Delaware Correctional Industries sales & marketing director pose by the newly repainted “Dover Days House”.  Delaware Correctional Industries inmates were responsible for applying the new upholstery and painting the new red, white ans blue paint scheme.  (Delaware State News photos by Dave Chambers)

From right, Carl Barker, director of Delaware Correctional Industries; Delaware Department of Justice Commissioner Robert M. Coupe; Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen; and Kim Coury, Delaware Correctional Industries sales and marketing director stand by the newly repainted Dover Days House. Delaware Correctional inmates were responsible for applying the new upholstery and painting the new red, white and blue paint scheme. (Delaware State News photos by Dave Chambers)

DOVER — City officials joked that a ceremonial booth and longtime Dover Days tradition was held together by paint and a strip of duct tape.

The quip doesn’t apply anymore.

That’s because inmates in the Delaware Department of Correction system recently spruced it up and made it sturdier with their handiwork.

The DOC’s Delaware Correctional Industries teamed with the city of Dover and Kent County Tourism office to refurbish what’s referred to as the “Dover Days House.” It sits on the corner of State and Loockerman streets.

City employees in the facilities management and grounds departments contributed by taking apart the house for transport to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna. They put it back together after improvements were made.

Jeff Kucek of Dover’s facilities management department has been tasked with assembling the house for nearly two decades, and said it was in need of refurbishment.

“It needed a change,” he said Tuesday during a quick ceremony paying tribute to the house. Its upgrades include a canvas awning, flower baskets, paint, new signage and more. “I’ve been putting it together for 19 years and don’t know how it’s held up.”

“It’s a great thing for us to work with the community,” said DCI’s sales and marketing manager Kim Coury. “It allows the inmates to work with a trade and give back to the community.”

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the house has been a city tradition since he was a kid. The idea to fix it up came during a brainstorming session on how to refurbish city items at a low cost and high quality.

“The (DCI) was an untapped resource,” said Mayor Christiansen. He noted plans for the city to work with the Department of Corrections again on a Christmas Holiday House.

Cindy Small, Kent County director of tourism, received credit from co-worker and Director of Public Relations and Special Events Lorraine Dion for coming up with DCI as a partner.

“People partnering together is what Dover Days is all about,” Ms. Dion said. “It’s built around community organizations teaming together to make things happen.”

DOC Commissioner Robert Coupe attended the ceremony on Tuesday, and lauded the project that “sends a message to offenders that someone in government recognizes the work they are doing, supports them and respects their contribution to the community … that gives them a positive feeling about themselves, and that’s important.”

From left, City of Dover facilities management employees Robert Gechey of Wyoming, Raughley Lloyd of Hartly, Michael Hamlett of Dover, Jeffrey Kucek of Dover and Charles O’ Brien of Dover installed the“Dover Days House at the corner of Loockerman and State Streets.

From left, City of Dover facilities management employees Robert Gechey of Wyoming, Raughley Lloyd of Hartly, Michael Hamlett of Dover, Jeffrey Kucek of Dover and Charles O’ Brien of Dover installed the“Dover Days House at the corner of Loockerman and State Streets.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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