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Fla. county inmates earn heavy equipment certification in jail’s inaugural class

The ADEPT certification is designed to give recipients a competitive employment edge


Walton County Sheriff’s Office

By Sarah Sinning

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. — Last week, four inmates at the Walton County Jail completed the facility’s first Heavy Equipment Operator course with Heavy Equipment Colleges of America Adaptable Equipment Proficiency Testing (ADEPT) certification, the sheriff’s office said.

While the sheriff’s office has offered the class since August 2018 (with a temporary hiatus due to the pandemic), this most recent offering is the first to include a nationally recognized certification.

Since its inception, a total of 23 inmates have graduated from the program, which teaches participants how to safely operate a backhoe, excavator, front-end loader, dozer and skid steer.

The newly added certification, however, will hopefully give David Lewis, Jr., Trevor Laughlin, Johnny Pruett and Clifton Galloway a competitive employment edge.

“These men have made me very proud,” said Vocational Instructor Mark Simmons. “They’ve worked hard and have earned this recognition.”

Simmons and Detention Deputy David Nelson received their ADEPT Practical Examiner certification in July. While Simmons teaches inmates how to use the machinery, Nelson assists with the examinations, which are sent off to Heavy Equipment Colleges of America for grading.

Inmates expressing interest in the program are thoroughly vetted through the jail’s classification process before they are allowed to participate.