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Proposed Greene County Prison Draws Mixed Reaction

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SNOW HILL, N.C. — A battle is brewing in Greene County over a new maximum-security prison.

With the prison comes the promise of new jobs. But some say a small county with two prisons does not need another.

The proposed prison facility is slated for land just northeast of Snow Hill. People on opposite sides of the land have opposing views about the situation.

Gov. Mike Easley and other top elected officials approved the site. That is bad news for Dorothy Wood, who would live right next door to the prison.

"I'm not really fond of it being this close to me," Wood said.

When asked what her concern was, Wood replied: "Escapees."

Wood has a clear view of the site from her back yard. So does Ester Henry, who lives on the other side of the lot -- and the other side of the debate.

"I really feel they are very secure, you know, the prisons," Henry said. I don't think anyone is going to jump over that wire."

Henry thinks the prison will help, not hurt, the area.

"I think it is a good idea because they say the prisons are overcrowded, and they really need more space," Henry said. "They need more jobs in this area, also."

Supporters say building a prison on the designated site will bring about 400 jobs and a much-needed boost to the local economy.

State officials still have concerns about how the land was purchased. Easley asked Attorney General Roy Cooper to investigate possible business ties between the land owner and Department of Correction officials -- because the county paid twice the appraised value for the land.

Wood said it is a bad deal all the way around.

"As far as benefits," she said, "I can't see there would be any for me."

Wood said she has a tough decision to make if the project goes forward: Stay where she is, or try to sell her home of 15 years.

The project is expected to go forward for now. Greene County commissioners plan to meet next month to discuss any concerns.


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