Editor, Dayton Chronicle:
I just received an extraordinary mailing from a group calling itself Project for Informed Citizens. Ginny Glaser Butler is the secretary and Karen Lyman is the treasurer according to the masthead. Apparently, these ladies are frightened by the prospect of our community being chosen as the site for a new minimum security correctional facility, and they are trying to rally support for their opposition to the project.
I have not talked with either of these ladies, so I do not really know from where they obtained their information. My own contacts with State Board of Correction representatives make it clear that the facts as represented in this mailing do not represent the actual situation. We are not talking about a prison. The proposed minimum security facility is just that—a facility housing inmates who require essentially no supervision beyond routine head counts at morning and evening muster. The actual restriction on individual activity is very much like a military basic training camp; in many ways, actually, it is less restrictive. It is simple-minded foolishness to assume that this proposed facility will somehow evolve into a full-fledged prison. There will be no concrete structures, no block houses, no high fences, no gun turrets. The area is now an apple orchard, and it will remain so, except that it will have sufficient workers to harvest the crop for a change.
While it is possible that some of the new jobs created by this project will not go to current Columbia County residents, it should be obvious to anybody that whoever is employed by the facility will most likely take up residence in our county. They will all become part of our tax base. They will all shop here for food and other things. They will all send their children to our school. They will all attend our churches. Twenty to thirty new families would have an overwhelming positive impact on the economy of this area.
Other communities where similar facilities have been established have not suffered any of the dire consequences predicted by Butler/Lyman. Just the opposite has happened, in fact. The affected communities have prospered beyond even optimistic estimates. In the harsh world of reality economics, nothing boosts a faltering community more than a large, continuing infusion of cash. This is exactly what the minimum security facility will supply. It is always possible to discover a downside to any situation. In this case, however, I believe the downside pales to insignificance when balanced against the overwhelming positive benefits this project will bring to our community.
Isn’t it obvious? Dayton and Columbia County have everything to gain and nothing to lose by welcoming the minimum security facility to our area. The County Commissioners need our support. The State Board of Corrections needs to know that this community wants the facility. The nay sayers must be recognized as a minority faction that is making noise out of proportion to its constituency.