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Brundidge council still considering prison

Mayor Isabell Boyd says the consideration of hiring a firm to lobby for a prison to locate in the town is still on the table despite being pulled from the agenda last Tuesday.

“We’re saving it for a later time,” Boyd said Friday. “A lot of people are really concerned about it and a lot of people here in Brundidge want it.”

The council was presented a contract at its September 5 meeting that would engage the firm of Butler Snow LLP as the lobbying agent in the city’s efforts to be considered as a site for the construction of a new correctional facility for the State of Alabama.

The firm’s fee would be $60,000, payable at $5,000 per month. The city would also be responsible for the reimbursement for all necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in providing the services. The fee did not include the need for legal services, which can be performed only by attorneys and legal staff.

However, the council failed to vote on the contract and councilwoman Betty Baxter motioned to table the vote until the next meeting to give Brundidge residents the chance to vote their opinions.

But at the next meeting, the item had been removed from the agenda although several residents were scheduled to speak about the issue. Rev. Randy Harvey voiced his opinion that a correctional facility that would house up to 4,000 inmates would not be a good thing for Brundidge.

“What is being said about it being a good thing for Brundidge does not hold water,” Harvey said. “Look what has happened in Clio and Clayton. What have the prison done for those towns? They are close to being ghost towns. Along with prisons come crime and drugs –on the inside and the outside.”

Nobody at that meeting spoke out in favor of recruiting the correctional facility.

Councilwoman Margaret Ross said she wants to be present when the vote is made and cannot be at the Tuesday meeting because she has personal circumstances to attend to.

Boyd did not indicate a specific council meeting for the issue to be brought back to the agenda.

For now, she said, the council will continue to focus on other issues facing the city such as bringing in new businesses.

The consideration of the prison is based on discussion in the State Legislature of consolidating Alabama’s prison system into four “megaprisons” strategically placed throughout the state. The correctional facility at capacity would hold double the current population of Brundidge, which was estimated to be at 1,972 as of 2016 by the U.S. Census Bureau.