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Barring a dramatic change, it’s time to move past prison issue

Posted 12/23/09

I was proud of the people of Arenac County and Standish for the way people fought for friends and family members employed at Standish Max. But with Pennsylvania’s decision coming at the end of what has been a tense year, it’s time for the community to move on.

That’s not to say that if we found out there was a prospect that could bring the facility back into operation, we wouldn’t get excited about it, but locally, it’s out of all of our hands.

Just as it has been all along.

It’s a big, elaborate, expensive place, and one day it will probably be packed with someone or something once again. Until then, all we can really do is wait. If something arises, we’ll prick up our ears and take interest, but for the time being, rumors, hearsay and flat out lies regarding the prison need to be subdued.

Throughout the year, no doubt some people that never wanted a prison in Standish to begin with probably flip-flopped and were at the front lines of the fight to reverse the state’s decision to close it’s most efficient facility.

And no doubt some who looked at the prison as a recession-proof job provider were exasperated when the day came that the county’s largest employer finally shut its cell doors for good.

The whole issue took us all for a ride. I remember writing stories regarding rumors of its closing in the spring, its announced closing in the summer, the activism spurned to keep it open, the prospects to fill it again and the disappointment of it being rejected by interested parties.

But there was a Standish before Standish Max and there is still a Standish here now.

And Standish will still be here tomorrow, and hopefully our neighbors who worked at the prison will still be here too, because to me, that was the heart of the issue.

However, I for one hope that the people who became actively involved in the process of democracy because of the prison’s closure don’t think it’s time for them to shut up and shut down. Even if you move past the prison issue, there are still plenty of causes in Arenac County that you can call, write and e-mail elected officials about.

And it doesn’t have to be a statewide issue. Maybe a local township meeting could provide you with the fire to get up and speak up; or maybe there’s something going on in Arenac County environmentally or economically that is ruffling your feathers.

Who knows?

But if everyone who made some noise about the prison at that June 12 rally at the Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Church just goes home licking their wounds and hanging their heads, we all lose.

And I for one, don’t like, make that HATE, losing.

Also, by me saying it’s time to move on, there’s a better chance fate will embarass me and the prison will reopen.

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Someone should contact the Michigan Film Office and let them know that there's a big, empty maximum security prison just north of Mid-Michigan that would be the perfect location for shooting prison scenes in movies. Seriously, with all the movies being shot in Michigan lately, Standish isn't that big of a drive from Detroit, and would probably be a lot more convenient for Hollywood producers than closing down part of an operating prison, or building a set for a movie.

Might be a thought as to how to get some additional use out of Standish Max.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | Report this

eyoung, what a good idea!

And, Tim, I have to say this was a very well-written column. I like how you took us from the rumors of its closing to the news it was true through the hope to the disappointment, but reminded everyone that because the prison is closing doesn't mean that everyone's mouths also have to close on everything else going on in the county.

Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Report this

Tim,

You make a good point here. Maybe some open-minded people can come together to push us forward, not backwards.

Monday, December 28, 2009 | Report this

In the day when Standish Max was a gleam in the gov eye I voiced my support ,very publicly, for building the prison. Today I am glad I did because I knew several officers who worked there from day one. They ran a good prison and they enjoyed the people and area of Arenac county. The prison was a good employer that caused no harm to the community or environment. I wonder if the pettifoggers of that day ever reconsidered their inappropriate comments.

Friday, January 22, 2010 | Report this

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