Divided Potsdam town board approves support for keeping O'burg, Gouverneur prisons open
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 9:35 am

Updated 8:57 a.m., March 18, 2019

 BY CRAIG FREILICH
North Country This Week

POTSDAM – The Town Council has approved a resolution calling for state prisons in St. Lawrence County to remain open in the face of proposed closures, but on a split vote of board members.

The town’s action is in support of a resolution by the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators in favor of “protecting hundreds of good paying jobs in the North Country,” and their effort to sway the state Senate as it considers shutting down some of the state’s prisons, perhaps those in Ogdensburg and Gouverneur.

The town’s proposal, which asked to people to sign an online petition to the Senate, passed on a 3-2 vote. In favor were supervisor Ann Carvill and councilors Judy Rich and Rose Rivezzi. Opposed were the two newest board members, Sarah Lister and Toni Kennedy.

All members said it would be regrettable if the county lost so many “good paying jobs.”

Carvill said she would support it “but it doesn’t signify I support the prison industry.”

“I think having the highest incarceration rate in the world is despicable,” Lister said.

“I did not want to support the resolution because in my view it implied that prisons were the future of the north country economy, and I am working very hard to help build other sorts of opportunities for the north country,” she said later in an email.

"I don’t want the prison to close, but I don’t think that the north country can rely on prisons for our economy to thrive," Lister said. "We have huge gaps in the healthcare field, and need to help folks get trained as home health aids, nurses, and PAs," she said..

An earlier version of this story said Lister wanted the prisons to close. North Country Now regrets the error.