Prowers Commissioners Address Civil Liberties, Second Bent County Prison to Close?

Prowers County Courthouse

A matter of civil liberties was tabled by the Prowers County Commissioners during their March 13 meeting.  Loren Brown, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Prowers County, asked for a resolution of support from the commissioners regarding eliminations of at least two provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, sections 1021 and 1022.   

In a letter provided to the commissioners, Brown explained that the leadership of America,”…has stepped over a threshold and slipped from the edge of governmental rule of law based on Constitutional law into a state of political and corporate lawlessness.”  The letter states that federal legislation pending in congress could strip Constitutional rights from American citizens, labeling them terrorists or threats to national security under broad definitions and allow them to be stripped of citizenship and incarcerated without due process of law.  The Act, if applied, could also allow the military to make arrests of private citizens.  Bowen cited that El Paso County has taken steps to support a similar resolution against those two sections.  The commissioners expressed some doubt that they had the authority to circumvent what would be federal law and said they would ask county attorney John Lefferdink for some guidance in the matter.  The issue will be up for discussion at the next commissioners meeting. 

Bill Dutro, Director of the Small Business Development Center headquartered at Otero Junior College in La Junta, provided a 2011 economic update for the commissioners in his six county region.  Dutro said 2011 was a banner year for small business starts, but this was in spite of limited bank loans.  The director said funding from lending institutions was tight, and he encountered three reasons pushing the latest rounds of personal business ventures…a person was fearful of losing his job, had lost his job or if they could not find employment, decided to start their own business, using a variety of personal funding sources.  Dutro added that for Prowers County, he worked on three business starts resulting in three new jobs, seventeen jobs retained and capital formation was over $641,000.  He said that resulted in one-quarter of the capital formation in the six county region for Prowers County.  Dutro added that 2012 is starting strong for the county with one $2million dollar venture already closed and two additional ones at $1million each are pending. 

Stefan Warn, Prowers County Rural Fire Chief provided a brief summary for 2011, telling the commissioners his department responded to 120 calls for the year, resulting in a fire loss of $83,020 in damages.  Warn reported the S.E. Regional Homeland Security funding will be reduced 50% for 2012, a cutback affecting all the counties in the state.  The coordinator’s position is being eliminated which was about 50% of the funding.  Warn also discussed the ISO insurance rating for the county and whether additional expenditures on the part of the county could translate into future savings through lower premiums when the ISO ratings improved.  Warn also noted that warmer, dryer weather in the region has resulted in several Red Flag warning days already in Prowers County.   

In other action, the commissioners approved the carnival contract with Crabtree Amusements for the annual Sand & Sage Fair, authorization for the purchase of a vehicle for the county’s Option Long Term Care Program and approved the Fairgrounds rental agreement with the Sagebrush Sam’s Group, and with LCC for the 2012 FFA Judging Competition.  The commissioners also ratified their letter sent on behalf of the Bent County Commissioners to state representatives over their concern about the potential cutbacks of prisoners being sent to the privately owned prison in Las Animas.  The letter states that the CCA owned prison employs 300 persons, half of whom work in Prowers and Otero Counties.  The Prowers County Commissioners stated that the CCA prison closing, coupled with the recently closing of the Ft Lyon Prison, would be economically disastrous to the region.

By Russ Baldwin


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