Tag Archives: Keep Our Jail Open

Voices From the Crowd: Columbia County at a Crossroads

There was a time in America when partisan politics had limits. Republican President Ronald Reagan lay motionless in his hospital bed after losing half the blood in his body from an assassination attempt that had pierced his lung, leaving the bullet lodged an inch from his heart. The first person the President received was Speaker of the House Tip O’Niell; a Democrat and staunch liberal. Taking the President’s withered hand, O’Neill knelt at the bedside and recited the twenty-third Pslam, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” as the President whispered the words along with him. Once finished, the Speaker kissed the President on his forehead and left the room; tears welling up in the big man’s eyes. It’s sad to admit this, but it’s unlikely such an encounter would happen today.

Columbia County is at the crossroads of an issue swept under the rug for almost a decade; public safety. This is an issue that should unite both sides of our partisan divide. Voters have repeatedly denied the funding necessary to operate a safe and effective sheriff’s office, including the jail. Each time the levy has failed, no one who voted against it has stepped forward to provide solutions. I respect those arguments claiming money is already in the county coffers to pay for the jail; however, you must explain “where” and “how.”

We all knew this preverbal can was being kicked down the road; now it’s reached the dead end. Our jail will close by early summer. What exacerbates the problem are the employees who currently work there, leaving, to seek stable employment. Having to refill those positions by removing patrol officers from the road makes us less safe and creates more issues.  Read More