Commissioners put eggs in wrong basket


Jobs — the four-letter word lovingly uttered by politicians and residents who support building an ICE detention center and headquarters on the outskirts of our city. 

Jobs, they shout, without a word about impacts on property values of current homeowners, resident safety or how the center increases the town’s economic base. Why use a prison as a job or people magnet? If prisons were good for jobs and communities, wouldn’t Rawlins be a thriving center that people run toward and not from?

What businesses have been waiting for Evanston to build a prison so they could set up shop? The town can’t keep businesses, as R&R Station and Gateway Grille closed in 2019. Companies such as Weatherby avoid Evanston. Local government has not effectively partnered with the education community to insure a skilled workforce, but they will partner with private prisons. Last year, there were violent demonstrations at ICE facilities in three states; one involved a fatal shooting. 

Why partner with an industry plagued with multiple lawsuits in multiple states in the hope of bringing economic stability? Why not use the old State Hospital buildings as trade schools for diesel mechanics, beauticians, barbers, etc. that would draw students from neighboring states?

Why has this community been in an economic slump for decades, especially since the country was experiencing economic growth and record low unemployment prior to the pandemic? Why do you have to routinely travel to Utah for multiple restaurant, entertainment, shopping and medical choices? 

Or is a private prison the pinnacle of economic development because its operators came to the commissioners so they didn’t have to get off their back pockets?

Worse than a lack of jobs is a lack of transparency in government, Antifa demonstrations, escapees, manhunts, increased crime, bad publicity, lower property values, lawsuits and failed government leadership.

With a change in Washington or immigration policies, the ICE facility becomes a white elephant that cannot be turned into a fast food outlet or water slide park. It can only be a prison. With a prison and a mental hospital, Evanston could be twice as repugnant as Rawlins.

The commissioners are lazy, inept and dismissive of voters, knowing they cannot be recalled from office. They approved the land sale below market value to CoreCivic. They’re upset when the public calls a 330,000 square-foot structure with 18-foot walls, razor wire, searchlights, guards and occupants who cannot come and go of their own accord a prison. One called constituents whiners and bleeding-heart liberals. Another doesn’t return calls or emails. I decided not to wait for their next savvy decision to further impact chronic economically depressed Evanston. I moved to a state and community with vibrant economic growth, multiple consumer choices for housing, food, entertainment, transportation, shopping and medical care and where elected officials can be recalled for doing asinine jobs.

Take care of yourselves. Your elected officials haven’t been doing great jobs of taking care of you or prudently planning the future of Evanston and Uinta County.

Mike Crichton

Knoxville, Tennessee


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