WILTON – With over 100 Department of Corrections employees wearing bright orange T-shirts with the slogan “Say No To Cuomo” packing the small meeting room at the gate to Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility, Republican leaders vowed to fight the governor’s announcement to close the facility along with three others in the state.
Civil Service Employee Union president Don Rowe told employees from McGregor who had gathered to protest the proposed closing, said this was just the start of a battle they did not intend to lose. “This is a very important day and it is just a start for McGregor,” said Rowe. “Our goal is to bring the government back to the table.”
McGregor employs approximately 330 people, from Union employees to civilians. All would be offered positions in another facility, but it would require relocation.
Noting that the prison system has been threatened in the past with having to close some of its facilities, Rowe said the bigger picture is the impact the closings would have on the communities where they are based and the residents and businesses that depend on them for their livelihood.
The impact on the community will hurt a lot of people and businesses,” said Wilton Supervisor Art Johnson, who was at the rally. “It will disrupt people’s lives and they will have to uproot their children from their schools and friends and move across the state.”
Senator Betty Little (R, C, IP), representing the 45th Senate District, was also present and said that while McGregor was not in her district, she was behind the rally to stop the closure.
“I do not represent McGregor, but the closure of a facility hurts the community,” said Little. “And moving the inmates to an already crowded facility makes them more dangerous.”
Calling for residents of Saratoga County, along with employees of the facility to write to their representatives and Governor Cuomo, Little said making their opinions known will help the cause.
“A hand-written letter or a personal email will help,” said Little. “And then we need to look at the entire system to see how we can accommodate fewer inmates and do it better.”
Senator Kathy Marchione, along with Assemblymen Jim Tedesco and Tony Jordan, reiterated the call to action.
“We need a voice in prison closures,” said Marchione. “The spin-off of this closure is monumental for Saratoga and Washington County and more—we need a voice and a vote.
Johnson thanked everyone who had shown up for the rally, noting that the presence of the facility in the area was important for a variety of factors, including economically and personally.
“I would like to thank you for recognizing how important McGregor is to the town of Wilton and Saratoga County,” said Johnson. “It has been a benefit and an asset to the town and I am grateful you all are willing to take on the governor. I really appreciate your efforts.”
But the Republicans were not the only ones speaking out against the closure proposed by the governor, who is a Democrat and is proposing the closings as a way to save tax dollars and streamline government.
Moreau Supervisor Preston Jenkins, Jr., who is a Democrat, was in the audience and stood up at the end of the rally noting that he wanted to speak as well.
“Two thirds of [McGregor] is in Moreau, and this will affect a lot of people in both Moreau and Wilton and all of Saratoga and Washington counties,” said Jenkins. “I am also against closing this facility and we need to do what we can to stop it. We are all in this together.”