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Commissioner's plan for county jail is neither affordable or necessary

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Michael Kitch's article regarding a new county jail which appeared in the Saturday (April 19th) edition of The Sun was very well done. It documented the financial difficulties attendant on jail planning in Belknap County. Kitch is correct in writing that something must be done, and also correct in pointing out the problems our communities face in funding what will have to be more modest options than what are being considered.

The commissioners' plans have been neither affordable nor necessary. Alternatives are available should they be sought.

The concerns of the commissioners for the jail have not always been apparent. For four years, between 2009 and 2013, there were no reports on conditions at the jail, which reports are required by statute. This lack of oversight served to mask the deterioration that was allowed to occur. Further, the two additional correctional officers for which Belknap's delegation provided funding were left unfilled. The sole vehicle which serves the jail is in deplorable condition at the same time that the Sheriff's Department clamors for three, four and five new vehicles every year. The obsession with building a monument to county egos while real operational needs at the jail go unaddressed is the essence of poor policy.

That we live in an age of competition for scarce resources is documented by the accompanying page 1 story of the Saturday Sun. No one in Laconia would voluntarily reduce the teaching staff, which decision must have been a painful one to make.

The letter to the editor by Mr. Henry in this same edition, extolling his Democratic allies and lambasting others on the delegation, gives evidence of his commitment to the ideological over the purely logical. We do not live in time when we can continue to pass on tax increases because, after all, it is only a few dollars. If Mr. Henry is raising his profile in preparation for filing for public office, he would do well to rethink his position, especially in light of the two stories cited above.

State Rep. Dick Burchell
Belknap County, District 5