The islands of Grafton County.

This is a letter to the editor in today's edition of the Caledonian Record newspaper. I'm really glad local residents are speaking out against the 38 million dollar jail being proposed and pushed by the Grafton County Commissioners. There are apparantly some other issues as well.

Here is the article. I'd highlight the letters from the 16 towns. Commissioner Burton has already told me he is planning on seeking re-election to that post.

2/13/2009 6:00:00 AM
Not an island?
To the Editor:

Last week in an article published by the Valley News, Grafton County Commissioner Michael Cryans claimed they were 'not an island.' This was stated with respect to their position on the new jail project, which had become a stalemated issue. It could have been remedied months ago, but they dug their heels in and refused to budge. Commissioner Burton clearly stated that he did not feel the proposed facility should be downsized by even one brick (1/27/09 minutes), and suggested that the delegation felt the same way. What? At a time where mounting legal costs coupled with new financial woes should dictate tighter fiscal behavior, they continue to steamroll onward, chewing tax dollars as they go. They received 16 letters of concern from towns within the county. Two of the commissioners finally figured it out. The third needed his own limelight (article on February 5) to let the public know he had finally knuckled, but we can all recognize political posturing. They are an island. A big one.

We do need a new prison for many reasons, but they don't have to put up such a big fuss over it - and, the prison project isn't the only looming issue. The butter in the frying pan's just starting to sizzle.

What else, you ask? We have problems with the newly constructed water tank. Yes, our million dollar baby may soon cost us more money. Recent issues with Woodsville Water and Light could mean that our commissioners might soon own their own water business. If that happens, the project could require upwards of another half million to complete, plus licensed monitoring of water quality (contracted or employed). Financially, I don't think the county needs to be in the water business. Leave that stuff to the pros. They've got enough problems with the farm. Look at the state of the dairy. Shouldn't we close the costly farm that's always in the red? That big barn has been part of the commissioners' concern with the water issue, should it ever catch fire. What's the answer? Take it down, and remove a huge threat to the nursing home. It should no longer be their business; nor ours by taxation.

A large issue with the prison farm stand last season raises questions as to the need for the county to constantly steal area farmers' business. They immorally accepted WIC coupons for several years, stealing dollars from area farmers' market vendors, and even after State and Federal Authorities told Superintendent Libby to stop, Commissioners Burton and Richards pushed for the practice to continue. No apologies, no remorse. They stole from taxpayers. These are our elected public officials, folks. That kind of behavior is an embarrassment to the county. If that wasn't bad enough, they utilized high paid employees to pick produce (offsite) for resale at their stand. That completely defeated the purpose of the whole project, and tax dollars were used to pay those officials. The reason? The commissioners were desperate to show a profit, which would keep the delegation from closing the operation down. Life is good, huh guys? They pushed the nursing home to purchase the inmate grown produce, which allowed them to shift money to the farm (making it look good). The home's director called the produce 'inferior, small in size and often damaged, making it harder to use' (1/13/09 minutes). Why can't these guys figure it out? The woman just does not want to use their produce. From cost and sanitation standpoints, she's right. Special handling equals higher costs, and the produce comes in from the field dirty. Close that project down.

Last, but certainly not least, and on a very serious note: the biggest threat to the complex this year could be MRSA. It is a dangerous 'staph' infection that has found its way into our jail. I fully realize that the Superintendent of Corrections has been doing everything in his power to isolate this problem, and applaud his efforts. Keeping the working inmates segregated and trying to contain the disease must be very challenging, but given the close quarters, will it be possible to eradicate this problem completely? Will it be possible to keep it away from the elderly residents with fragile immune systems? Grafton County taxpayers deserve more from the commissioners than just level budgeting. Believable explanations are due, and they need to show some serious cuts at all levels in every department, including all programs that needlessly waste taxpayer dollars. They need to devote their time and efforts to the management of important issues, and not frivolous sentimental wants or 'cutesy' ideas of certain individuals. Government agencies and businesses are slimming down all over the country. Don't look to future 'bail out' packages to solve problems that you created yourselves. You are a big part of the problem, and now you need to fix it. Other counties in New Hampshire tightened their belts until it hurt. Now it's your turn. Time to get off that island, Commissioners!

Daryl Grasso

Woodsville, N.H.