Letter: Voters were right to reject jail plan
My hat’s off to Grand County voters, who showed far better judgment than did their elected officials in overwhelmingly voting down Detention Center 1A as proposed by the county commissioners at the inducement of the Sheriff. Some 64% of them told the County on Nov. 5 that the prospect of raising sales taxes at the cash register to build a nearly $30 million meatball wasn’t a good idea.
Indeed, it might be time to build a new jail, but leave it to government to come up with the worst scheme possible. No wonder they shrouded it in secrecy for more than a year and allowed scant public input.
The commissioners ought to be embarrassed that they bought into a grandiose plan that would have put an additional financial burden on shoppers and retailers, and ashamed that the result would have eroded an entire neighborhood of family homes in tiny HSS, the County Seat, causing enduring hardship for most all who live nearby.
I’m not letting anyone off the hook here. My opinion is the commissioners fell for the sheriff’s visions of grandeur that were spurred by an architect in Denver. In a perfect world, the county manager and staff would have steered them toward a wiser course. But the manager is new to the job, so I’ll give her a pass.
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Not so, the Board of Trustees in Hot Sulphur Springs, where I’ve lived for 13 years. In the year that planning was underway, not one detectable gesture of opposition, official or unofficial, was made by the board, in whose hands lie the welfare of their neighbors.
As a retired newspaperman, it’s hard to criticize the media for choosing what it covers, but none of the three newspapers here published a single “enterprise” account about this hard-to-ignore project. My definition of an enterprise story is basically one in which the newspaper eschews the self-serving handout and at least asks follow-up questions. Only one paper printed my opinion column regarding the issue.
However partial, it was the only journalistic attempt at fully defining the proposal. I’ll be paying attention to what the commissioners do next. They lost the first round in a landslide, which I’d interpret as their constituents’ forceful comment against not only the new jail’s cost, but source of funding, location, physical structure, planning process, and translucency in government.
— Richard H. Johnson, Hot Sulphur Springs
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