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Falls Career students give old Marble Falls jail curb appeal

Falls Career High School student Jordan Childress works on a drip-irrigation line at the old Marble Falls jail. Students from the school are giving the piece of property a facelift through new landscaping. The Daybreak Rotary Club of Marble Falls is assisting in the project. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Driving down Second Street in Marble Falls just west of Main Street, one might not even realize they are passing a piece of local history. But now, thanks to a collaboration between the Daybreak Rotary Club of Marble Falls and Falls Career High School, folks will definitely take notice of the old Marble Falls jail.

The plan meant cutting several layers through the rock. But with a little mechanical help, breaking up some of the larger layers wasn’t too tough.

“Then, the kids broke up the rocks themselves, and we moved them off behind the (jail),” said Falls Career teacher Chess Long. “It’s a lot of hard work the students are doing.”

Yet, the Falls Career students look forward to the chance to work on the landscape project.

“They know if they don’t keep their grades up and take care of things in class, they can’t come out here to work,” Long said. “And really, they look forward to getting out here probably more than they do to graduation.

“They see something here,” Long added. “They can see the progress and the changes they’re making.”

That sense of accomplishment and community service are something Long hopes the students keep with them wherever their journey takes them in life. He knows many of the Falls Career students will likely stay within the Marble Falls and Highland Lakes community. But now, by helping with this project, they’ll have a bit more skin in the game.

“Something like this — as simple as it seems just landscaping an old jail — it helps them realize they are part of a community and it’s also their community,” Long said. “That’s something they’ll remember.”

The work is hard, dirty and gritty.

With the exception of a little mechanical help at breaking up some of the initial rock and moving dirt, the students have tackled the rest with just physical labor and tenacity. A pile of granite gravel on the back of a trailer looks daunting, but with every student picking up a shovel and grabbing a wheel barrel, the pile soon shrinks.

Retired State District Judge Guilford “Gil” Jones, a member of the Daybreak Rotary, explained that partnerships like this help everybody — especially the community. The club routinely looks for ways it can help, whether through funding, direct assistance or partnerships such as this one.

Long said the students work at the project about every Tuesday (weather permitting). They’ve been working on it for about six weeks with days lasting five to six hours.

The difference, however, is amazing.

“This is something they can be proud of,” Long said.

daniel@thepicayune.com