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Local gov't leaders decry state actions

ELIZABETHTOWN - Local government leaders from across the Adirondack region recently gathered to express their collective disdain for some recent decisions made at the state level.

The Intercounty Legislative Committee of the Adirondacks, a collective of legislators from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, Herkimer, Saratoga, Warren, Washington, and Fulton counties, met at the Essex County Board of Supervisors Chambers Feb. 18 and lent their solidarity to resolutions opposing the proposed closure of two North Country prisons.

Lyon Mountain correctional facility, located in Clinton County, and Moriah Shock correctional facility in Essex County are both slated for closure in 2011 as part of Gov. David Paterson's proposed executive budget, announced in January.

Local representatives at the county and state levels have since been lobbying arduously for the state to reconsider the closings, which they say will create a devastating economic impact in the region.

"Other than agriculture, this is the only industry that this area has," said Clinton County legislator Sam Trombley.

With recent closing of other prisons in the Adirondacks, such as Camp Gabriels near Saranac Lake, many local leaders feel the region is being unfairly targeted.

"It's quite clear that the governor is not a friend of the North Country," Trombley added. "To my knowledge, he's only ever been to Clinton County once."

Randy Douglas, chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, said he and other Essex County leaders were in Albany the week before to personally plead with Department of Corrections officials.

"We've been using their own literature for ammunition to fight this closing," Douglas said, noting how, according to DOC figures, Shock facilities like the one in Moriah have saved the state upwards of $2 billion as an alternative to traditional incarceration. "We're making some headway."

The committee also threw their weight behind a resolution drafted by Hamilton County in support of the governor's proposed moratorium on state land purchases.

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