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Corrections chief is not listening

The people speak, and the government does the opposite. I saw this truism most clearly during a recent hour-long phone conversation I had with Steve Canterbury, director of the Regional Jail Authority.

I told Steve Canterbury that the people of North Central West Virginia do not want a super-expensive regional jail built at the Morris Farm site (near Corridor H in western Randolph County). Canterbury told me that the jail will be built on the Morris Farm site, and that's the final word on the subject.

No, Steve, that's not the final word on the subject, and that is because it's an obvious fact to the thinking person that all of the other proposed sites (Belington, Davis and Huttonsville) are preferable to the Morris Farm site.

At the same time, Canterbury is ready to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on the remote, without-infrastructure location at the Morris Farm site. The public is told Wirt County is facing financial destruction because it will be forced to use a regional jail in West Union. Wirt County has a low tax base and currently uses its local jail as a way of generating income by contracting services. Soon, that county will lose the contracting-services income and will be required to pay huge amounts of money to the Regional Jail Authority for the housing of prisoners.

Is Steve Canterbury for real? The public is told that the final word has been spoken: Eleven million dollars for infrastructure at the Morris Farm site is set in stone, although virtually all of those millions could be saved by locating the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington, Davis or Huttonsville. At the same time, the public is told that counties owe $6 million to the Regional Jail Authority.

When I pay my taxes, nobody tells me Canterbury gets a certain percentage of my hard-earned money to waste while money-starved counties go into a financial black hole by paying through their noses for the housing of prisoners at Canterbury's regional jails.

Now, Wirt County is in the process of abandoning its three-person county commission system and replacing the county commissioners with a five-person county administrator system. Goodbye, county commissioners. Hello, financial destruction, compliments of the regional jail system.

Enough is enough. I don't need to spend hours talking to an appointed government worker who will never convince me that wrong is right. Steve Canterbury, you need to accept reality and abandon your plan to locate the regional jail at the Morris Farm site. The taxpayers are wise to your ill-begotten plan, and we will stop it.

Charles F. Phillips

Philippi

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