New meat-cutting facility opens at Northland corrections center

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT
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SAGINAW, MN -- Friday, the Northeast Regional Correctional Center (NERCC) opened a brand new meat-cutting facility for residents to learn new skills.

NERCC is a correctional facility that gives men with a criminal history a chance to learn skills they can use upon release.

The meat-cutting program is one example.

Matt Wrazidlo, head of the meat cutting program says they’ve needed a new building for a long time.

“This building’s been in the making for the last seven years,” said Wrazidlo, “[We had] 80 years of [the previous building] but it had seen its time and it was time to go.”

Wrazidlo says the new building has all new equipment and the ability to operate a retail storefront for the public.

“It’s just streamlining the whole process to make our lives easier and it’s a better product,” said Wrazidlo.

Those in the program, like Kraig Johnstone, say a new facility will make an already helpful program even more beneficial to residents like himself serving their sentence at the facility.

“It’s organized way, way nicer than the other little building we’d had,” Johnstone said, “It’s [a really nice program], you know, everyone gets treated respectfully. Every day I’m learning new stuff.”

Those who have been part of the program, like Tristan Snyder, who now works as an apprentice meat cutter.

“I like to say that Matt lit a fire under me to get back into the swing of work and just prior to that I hadn’t been working for years,” he said.

Wrazidlo believes even if those who go through the program don’t end up cutting meat for a living once they leave, the program helps them find purpose.

“The lessons I can impart on them on how to work and achieve their daily goals will transfer into the system, into their own lives. That’s more important than just being a meat cutter,” he said.

The multi-million dollar building was funded through several state bonding bills.