February 11, 2016

Board passes resolution reserving support for federal detainees


ARENAC COUNTY — Until more information on a Guantanamo Bay detainee transfer is released by the federal government, the Arenac County Board of Commissioners are reserving support of such a transfer to Standish Max.

The resolution reserving support until clarification on five issues – eminent domain, road closures, landscaping, security and law enforcement responsibilities – was passed Oct. 26 at a special meeting. It comes just a few weeks after a resolution was passed by the board supporting the transfer of federal prisoners and detainees to the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility.

Another resolution was proposed rescinding the support of a transfer, however no vote was taken on that resolution.

All commissioners supported the clarity resolution, except one, District V Commissioner Joseph Sancimino.

Sancimino said 90 to 95-percent of the people he interacts with are against the transfer.

“These are not your average criminals,” he said. “They’ve been associated with Al Qaeda.”

Sancimino also presented aerial maps printed off a computer comparing the current landscape around Standish Max, compared to that of a federal prison in Florence, Colo., adding the ground around the Florence facility “looks like a moon scape.”

The other commissioners, however, didn’t agree with Sancimino.

“I’m all for keeping that prison open, no matter what,” said District IV Commissioner Ronald Branda. “I do believe that we need answers.”

“I’m not at all in favor or rescinding our original resolution,” District I Commissioner Robert Luce said. “Arenac County cannot afford to go any lower than it is economically.”

Some members of the public also spoke up during the special meeting, and even members of the Michigan Coalition to Stop Gitmo North supported the board’s action.

Kelly Kimball, a coalition member from Standish, said she supported the board’s action on Monday to request clarity.

“I love this resolution,” added coalition member Dave Munson. “We need more information.”

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