Behind the Scenes of Facility Operations

Behind the Scenes of Facility Operations

Meet John Kowalski, Facility Maintenance Leader of the Community Corrections Center - Omaha.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services offers a variety of job opportunities and flexibility to advance teammate careers. John Kowalski is one of many who has taken advantage of these opportunities.

“I had worked at the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility (NCYF) as a corporal from August 2009 to January 2016,” said Kowalski. “I was also on the NDCS Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) from April 2012 to January 2016. Now I'm a maintenance leader at the Community Correctional Center - Omaha and I love it too.”

Kowalski has dedicated his second career to NDCS. Prior to working for the Department, he served as a Construction Electrician in the United States Navy Seabees for 20 years. “After being in the Navy for so long, I wanted to pursue something a little bit different while still working in that field,” Kowalski said. “I thought a state job might be a good choice.  I hoped the transition from my military lifestyle to this would be smooth and it was.  I knew a state job would provide me with the stability I was used to, while allowing me to use the skills I already had.”

Maintaining the facility on a daily basis for Kowalski involves projects like repairing electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and kitchen equipment.  He instructs and leads incarcerated individuals on project assignments like painting and fixing doors, windows and walls.  He maintains, repairs and inventories facility tools and equipment.  He also follows a preventative maintenance schedule in order to keep the facility running smoothly and uses inspections to foresee structural and mechanical problems.

Kowalski said he enjoys the people he works with. “My supervisor has faith in my abilities and allows me to be pretty independent. I enjoy repairing things and seeing my hard work pay off as it makes the facility more efficient.  I am able to do a job that I know and enjoy while having a positive impact on the incarcerated individuals I work with.  I am teaching them job skills that will help them be successful when they return to the community.  It makes me feel good when someone thanks me for fixing something, knowing that I helped them be more efficient and productive.”

Kowalski said he is always learning too. “I have learned a lot of maintenance and repair tricks over the years. I have also learned some tips to repair plumbing and even HVAC issues, which I had minimal knowledge of in the past.  Every day I learn something new. I am also learning how to work with people from different backgrounds with different values. It’s been a great experience because you meet incarcerated individuals from all different demographics and you learn to work together.”

Every day brings a new challenge to Kowalski. He said he never knows what problem or issue he might face on any given day. But whatever it is, he is ready. “I know I will need to act quickly, adjust on the fly, and tackle the problem as quickly as I can, which is what makes things exciting.”

If you're interested in applying to Facility Operations, NDCS has several positions open. Below is a list of a variety of positions offered at NDCS.

- Electrician

- Electronics Technician

- Engineer

- Facilities Construction Coordinator

- Facilities Engineering Manager

- Facility Maintenance Leader

- Facility Maintenance Specialist

- Facility Maintenance Supervisor

- Facilities Management Systems Coordinator

- Plumber

- Safety Specialist