(Bruce Baker/McCook Daily Gazette)
Pam Morello, who was officially named warden of the McCook Work Ethic Camp in September, was named Acting Warden in August, when Warden Barb Lewien accepted a position with the Omaha Correctional Center. She was moved permanently into the position, overseeing the 150-160 population of the Nebraska Department of Corrections center, effective Sept. 8.
Morello has been in McCook since she relocated with the railroad in 1980. She has extensive experience with WEC and has been promoted several times since she began her career in 2001, serving as Assistant Warden since 2008.
Morello feels the partnerships the WEC has established with the community are crucial and is particularly grateful for the efforts surrounding their vocational training program. The program initially focused on welding training and prompted Mid-Plains Community College to open the Center for Applied Science and Technology in McCook, as well as hire a full-time welding and machine shop instructor at the center. The WEC has since added a business technology program which graduated its third class recently, following the success of the welding program. "Mid-Plains Community College, Valmont and Workforce Development were instrumental in kicking off the program," said Morello.
"The staff here really demonstrates the belief change is possible. That's really what the Work Ethic Camp is all about. It's such an individual endeavor and not everyone is at the same place at the same time. It requires patience," said Morello.
Morello said she is following in the footsteps of two wardens who "cast very long shadows, in regard to the good work that they began," referring to Lewien and her predecessor Raleigh Haas.
In September, the WEC expanded its services to non-resident probation and parolees, serving as a Day Reporting Center and allowing them to take part in self betterment programs, including cognitive thinking and substance abuse programs.
"Constant re-evaluation of what we are doing [is necessary], targeting needs and addressing them so we are offering programming that addresses their specific needs. All of that is only possible through our staff," said Morello, whose pride in her approximate 80 member staff is evident.
"They encourage and challenge me daily. Together we remain faithful and steadfast in our mission here at the Work Ethic Camp."