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Friday, 09 February 2018 17:49

Downeast Correctional Facility unexpectedly closes, leaves dozens unemployed Featured

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MACHIASPORT- “I believe this governor wants his legacy to be that he's the governor that closed Downeast Correctional Facility,” said one upset employee.

The latest controversy involving Governor LePage comes at the cost of more than three dozen state employees.

“If you had somebody kick your door in at four o'clock in the morning to exert their will, I think everybody would feel the same way,” said Chris Gardner, chair of the Washington County Commissioners.

Armed state police and guards stormed the Downeast Correctional Facility during the early morning hours Friday, loading inmates onto buses for transfer, and locking employees outside the front gate, serving them a pink slip announcing the closure of the jail.

“This should not have happened. It was done in the dead of night. It was classless, it was juvenile,” said Representative Will Tuell.

And, it will hurt the local economy.

“We get work release. We get 30,000 hours of community service. All that work release money goes back into the state,” said Kevin Millay, a retired jail employee.

With the movement of the inmates, many local businesses are down employees.

And prison employees worry they will have to leave the area to find work, which will also have a negative impact on the regional economy.

Emotions were flying from the announcement-- upset, sad, and disrespected were a few words tossed around.

But the decision to do it, despite the will of the people, has people downright angry.

“We had trust that the legislative process was working its way out. This facility has been the subject of the legislature for some time, the people's representatives is the legislature. The people have spoken several times on this issue, and we felt comfortable that, yet again, they would speak. But we are absolutely shocked to think the governor cares so little about what the people think, that he would decide to unilaterally close this on his own,” said Gardner.

“We are citizens of the state of Maine. The state of Maine doesn't deserve that. It's low, and a sad day for this state,” said Millay.

Legislators and constituents tell us the fight is not over, and they plan to continue to let their voices be heard in the days and weeks to come.

Ashley Paul

Evening News Anchor/Reporter
apaul@wvii.com

Ashley joined the WVII ABC 7 and WFVX Fox 22 in April 2015. After working as an intern at Fox 29 in Philadelphia, Fox 25 and Channel 7 in Boston, and The Today Show in Australia, she is so excited to officially kick off her career as a reporter here in Maine!

Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Ashley has had an interest in news since anchoring the morning broadcast at her elementary school at the age of 10. Ashley is also a graduate of Boston University, with a degree in Journalism. At BU, she participated in various BUTV programs and reported live from the democratic headquarters during the election day coverage.

When not at the station, Ashley enjoys working out, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and watching movies. She is so excited to enjoy all that Maine has to offer, so if you see her out be sure to say hello!