Federal prison issue back on commission agenda

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches Mayor Roger Van Horn had expected by now to hear if a federal prison would be built on the north loop. However, no decision can be made until a federal budget is adopted. Meanwhile, the controversy brews. He's now decided to put the issue back on the agenda. Van Horn explained, "Both sides have been asking me for an opportunity to speak. I though this would be a good thing to do knowing that it is not going to be addressed again until well after the first of the year." The federal prison issue is the first agenda item on Tuesday's city commission meeting. The meeting is on November 18th and begins at 5:30.

Paul Risk, the leader of Citizens Opposed to Prison (COPS) says he was turned down twice to get the item on the agenda, so he's pleasantly surprised about the upcoming meeting. He prefers a public forum, but will take the twenty minutes the mayor is giving both sides. His concern is, "That people don't think they're cut out of the loop. That this is not just a token thing in order to placate people that they now know are very upset about the fact that there was very inadequate time before to make any public input."

In June the commission committed to the project 72 hours after posting it on the agenda. The mayor says industrial prospects demand confidentiality. Van Horn said, "Who can argue perception. I mean, we're not sneaky. We're not trying to hide anything. We did it by the procedure that has always been done by. You can go to any NEDCO meeting and they will say we had a contact, but we can't tell you anything about it. That's the way the business is done."

COPS has picketed city hall to get a word in. But after next week's meeting don't expect the signs to go away. Risk notes, "Little yellow yard signs are popping up like rectangular daffodils all over town."

For viewpoints: www.stopnacprison.com and www.nedco.org.