Mayor Cahoon’s letter outlines impact of prison closure

Published 6:28 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

Editor’s note: Below is Columbia Mayor James Cahoon’s message to Timothy Moose, chief deputy secretary of Public Safety, and others regarding the proposed closure of Tyrrell Prison Work Farm.

Chief Deputy Secretary Moose:

Yesterday I was informed of the proposed temporary closing of three prisons in our state. One of those prisons is Tyrrell Prison Work Farm in Tyrrell County. The Town of Columbia is the only town in this county of approximately 4,000 people. The closing of this prison has major economic impact implications for us in many different ways. One, in particular, is that the Town of Columbia furnishes sewer services to the prison. The revenue from your facility constitutes approximately 30% of our current water/sewer department budget. A closure of the prison here (temporary or permanent) will be a devastating economic blow to our town water/sewer department and the town’s budget. We are already economically depressed as a Tier 1 County and recently lost one of our major businesses that affected our revenues for water/sewer services, representing a loss of 20% of the water/sewer budget.

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My hope is that these concerns will be taken into consideration as decisions are made regarding closures of any length of time. For small towns and counties, a facility closure of this size is economically devastating. My hope is also that the state and/or your department will work together to avoid this closure or at least provide us with some form of economic relief to address the water/sewer budget concerns during the closure period.

Thank you for any thoughts and actions you may take regarding these concerns.

James W. Cahoon, Mayor

Town of Columbia

Cahoon also dispatched similar messages to the governor’s office, Senator Steinburg and Representative Goodwin. 


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