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More on Caldwell County Residents' Opposition to Emerald Detention Center

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We reported last week that Caldwell County had rejected a proposed 1,000 bed detention center proposed by Emerald Corrections after a strong showing by residents opposed to the prison at a late December public meeting about the proposal.

We received this list of frustrations from the group opposed from the facility, the Concerned Citizens in Caldwell County:

As a group of concerned citizens of Caldwell County, we also attended the Dec. 27, 2007 Lytton Springs session. We, however, were very impressed by the control of the participating frustrated area residents! Numerous “frustrations” were, in our opinion, justified.

Frustration #1: Only a six (6) day window was given to three (3) area residents informing them of a “ Question and Answer Session” that had been planned for Lytton Springs, and at this session an Emerald representative would answer questions.

Frustration #2: This preplanned session was to be held two (2) days after Christmas.

Frustration #3: A request was made asking that this session be delayed two (2) weeks to allow out-of-town residents to return home and/or residents entertaining relatives and guests in their homes to attend. The session date was non-negotiable. The reason given was that no other date was convenient for Emerald.

Frustration #4: To our knowledge, very little notification (if any) of this session was provided to the area residents. Had it not been for this quickly formed group of concerned citizens, who hastily printed and disbursed fliers throughout the community, very few residents would have known of the session.

Frustration #5: Information reported in the Austin Statesman for their Dec.11, 2007 article on the proposed detention facility, erroneous stated that the proposed site was sparsely populated and only one or two homes were located within a two (2) mile radius of the site. In reality, there are at least forty-five (45) homes located along a road located one (1) mile from the site…less than ½ mile if measured “as the crow flies.” This count does not include several homes located directly on the proposed road site.

Frustration #6: On Dec. 20, 2007, the editor of the Post Register reported, “according to Emerald, the detainees would be neither families nor violent offenders…” At the session, when the Emerald representative was asked if violent offenders would be held at this facility, Mr. Moore declared that neither Emerald nor the county had any control over the decision on the status of who would be held there!

Frustration #7: The Emerald representative was short material packets to disseminate to the participants. (Perhaps he was surprised that so many had heard about the session given the short time frame in which it was planned, and /or that so many residents had cut-short their Christmas holiday in order to attend).

Frustration #8: Pertaining to the material packets that were dispersed to the participants present, the amount of space allocated for each informational chart was but seven percent (7%) of a normal page size. Therefore, each chart rendered was very difficult to read and comprehend.

Frustration #9: At the opening of the Emerald Presentation, the representative stated that no bonds would be used, as all monies would be coming from private investors. This, he said would eliminate all risk to the county. These three (3) factors were stated on page one (1) of the packet. However, this was not what was presented on page seven (7) of the packet. On that page, the chart depicts a bond agreement was to be made between Caldwell County Elected Officials and the investors. This DOES make the county responsible for payments! When the Emerald representative was questioned about the “bond” issue, he quickly went on to another question.

Frustration #10: When Emerald was asked how the county would benefit from the two hundred (200) plus jobs made available by this detention facility, in light of the fact that the county had trouble filling/retaining employees at the Geo facility (located but eight (8) to ten (10) miles away) in Lockhart, Mr. Moore’s answer was that the Emerald facility would have to “steal “ Geo’s employees!

Further “frustrations” were avoided when a well-known and highly respected Lytton Springs resident asked for a show of hands in favor of the facility. No hands were raised.

Nowhere on the charts was it mentioned the huge toll that would be taken on neither the county’s infrastructure, nor the huge amount of water to be used by this facility. (According to the County Judge in Lasalle County, Emerald’s Detention Facility located there, which is half the size of the facility planned here, uses between 1 and 1 ½ million gallons of water each month). Therefore, the facility here would use between 2 and 2 ½ million gallons of our precious water each month!!

The largest “frustration” however, is this!! If the concerned residents of Caldwell County can research and discover the multiple negatives of this endeavor, why couldn’t (and/or wouldn’t) our elected officials, as well as the local newspaper (who’s job it is to “ keep their readers informed”) inform us of this “HIGH RISK and RESOURCE DEPLETING ENDEAVOR??

Commissioner Joe Roland has agreed to not pursue the project further, so congrats are in order to the Concerned Citizens in Caldwell County for having their frustrations heard! Our previous coverage on the issue: