Norton Correctional Facility (NCF) will host an open house at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, to celebrate the completion of the first of four inmate-built cabins that will be available for rent at area state parks.

The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will be followed by a luncheon and tours of the cabins currently located on the facility’s north grounds.

Inmates from NCF, Hutchinson Correctional Facility and Ellsworth Correctional Facility are constructing the rental cabins that feature fully furnished kitchens and living areas. Kansas Wildscape Foundation (KWF), a non-profit conservation organization, provides funding for the construction program as part of a cooperative agreement with the Kansas Department of Corrections, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) and the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush.

KDWP Secretary Mike Hayden is scheduled to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony that also will be attended by Department of Corrections deputy secretaries Chuck Simmons and Roger Haden, KWF Executive Director Charlie Black, KWF Board Chair Warren Gfeller, Duane Krueger of Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush and KDWP Commission Member Doug Sebelius. Other KDWP Commissioners may also be in attendance. NCF Warden Jay Shelton will be on hand to welcome guests and to oversee the activities.

The first two cabins constructed by inmates at NCF, where the program began in December 2007, will be moved to Scott State Park in west central Kansas. The NCF-built cabins, unlike the log-siding exterior cabins at other parks, feature a stucco exterior to match Scott Lake’s Native American theme. The final two cabins will be placed at Prairie Dog State Park, located at Sebelius Reservoir in Norton County.

The cabins have proven to be popular among park users, as well the inmates participating in the program who are gaining valuable construction experience that can assist them in finding meaningful employment upon their release. Most cabins will accommodate 4 to 6 adults while others are planned to sleep up to 10 adults.

Sixty-nine cabins are currently available at various KDWP locations across the state. Cabin reservations may be made online.

“Ninety percent of the rental fee returns to Wildscape as repayment of their investment and ten percent is retained by Wildlife and Parks,” said KDWP representative Mark Stock.