Five inmates, including one Escambia County inmate currently housed in Walton County, celebrated successfully completing the jail’s heavy equipment program on Sept. 10.

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — A group of inmates at the Walton County Jail recently took a small step toward a brighter, more productive future.

According to a press release from the Walton County Sheriff's Office, five inmates, including one Escambia County inmate currently housed in Walton County, celebrated successfully completing the jail’s heavy equipment program Tuesday.

WCSO reports that during the six-week course, they learned how to safely operate and maintain heavy machinery commonly used on construction sites under the instruction of Vocational Programs Instructor Markus Simmons.

“I feel honored to have been able to work with these guys,” said Simmons. “I have watched each of them become better at operating each piece of equipment and I am proud of what each of them have accomplished.”

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, each of the inmates received a certificate of completion from the heavy equipment program at a small ceremony at the Walton County Jail.

“I’m proud of us. We have all become artists. The Earth is our canvas, we can make mountains and sculpt the land,” said Harlan Powell, the Escambia County graduate.

Representatives from local construction companies, including CW Roberts Contracting, attended the heavy equipment ceremony today to meet the graduates and talk to them about future employment, the release said.

“This is a second chance at life,” says Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “It’s up to you whether or not you take it, but my hope is that you use these skills to help pave a new path to a better life.”

Three graduates have already been hired by local construction companies and will begin work within the next couple weeks. The other two inmates in the heavy equipment graduation class have been offered jobs upon their release.