Whitesburg KY

Public being urged to show up at high school to support bringing prison to county

When U.S. Bureau of Prison (BOP) officials last held a public meeting in Whitesburg, more than 500 citizens showed up at Letcher County Central High School to show their support for the construction of a new prison here they are in favor of the prison and 119 citizens le supporting the plan. In a two petitions of support w sented bearing a total of 12

According to the BO were no serious objection campus that would house 1,088 high-security federal inmates in a prison and 128 minimum-security inmates in a camp.

The 2013 meeting was held as the kickoff for an environmental impact study that was completed earlier this year and will be formally presented to the public at a similar meeting scheduled for this Thursday evening, also at Letcher County Central High School. BOP officials will be available to discuss the findings of the impact statement between 5:30 and 8 p.m.

Members of the Letcher County Planning Commission, a group of local business leaders and concerned citizens who have been working to bring a prison here for more than a decade, hope to see a similar show of support at this week’s meeting.

“We want and need people there to support it,” said the Rev. Elwood Cornett, who has chaired the Planning Commission since it began working with U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers to bring a prison here in hopes of helping with the largescale unemployment that plagues the county.

The Environmental Impact Statement looks at the pros and cons of locating the prison on one of two locations — on a 753-acre site at Payne Gap or a similar-sized site at Roxana.

Cornett and other members of the Planning Commission hope that Letcher County citizens will be supportive of whichever site the Bureau of Prisons chooses if the process continues to go forward.

Cornett, whose fellow Planning Commission members praise for devoting “thousands of hours” on the project, fears that if the public begins arguing over where the facility should be located, the BOP could choose its third option — to do nothing.

“They (BOP officials) are required by federal law to look at two possible sites,” said Cornett, an Old Regular Baptist preacher who worked many years in public education. “A third alternative is to do absolutely nothing. Because of that we have made serious efforts not to have internal division — not to pit one part of the county against the other.”

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