ELIZABETHTOWN - The Essex County Board of Supervisors is getting some high-profile support from federal representatives in its quest to save the potentially-doomed Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility.
After some vocal lobbying from board chair Randy Douglas and Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava, the likes of Congressmen Bill Owens and Scott Murphy have enlisted in the battle to "save shock," which has been tagged for closure in the 2010-2011 Executive Budget.
"There are federal tax dollars that are given to the state to operate correctional facilities," Douglas said. "Congressman Owens has already sent a letter to Governor Paterson and talked to him on the phone in the hopes to change his mind."
Owens said Monday that after all things are considered, now is not the time to be stripping the area of more than 100 jobs - an opinion he's made very clear to Paterson.
"I expressed my concern to the governor that this is not a period of time to be cutting jobs in places like Moriah. We should be building more jobs," Owens said. "I urged him to reconsider, which he said he would do."
Owens said on top of pressuring Albany, he's also exploring the possibility of finding a federal use for the structures at the facility.
Douglas and Scozzafava attended meetings at last week's New York State Association of Counties in New York City. There, they set their sights on Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.
George Canon is supervisor for the town of Newcomb.
"Those guys were like two little rug rats scurrying around the entire time we were there," he said. "Gillibrand couldn't move without one of them being all over her."
Douglas said he's confident that with help from federal officials, the shock facility can be saved.
"They are listening. We wouldn't be making all of these extra trips to Albany and going to Washington next month if they weren't," Douglas said. "We will be meeting with Schumer and Gillibrand and Owens and Murphy. They have been most helpful in helping us fight this fight."
On Monday, the Essex County Ways and Means Committee approved $3,000 for an economic impact study on Moriah Shock. Economics Consultant Colin Reed will conduct the study and it's expected to be complete by March 5.
Officials hope hard numbers displaying Moriah Shock's importance to the town's economic stability will sway Paterson's opinion.
The state Department of Corrections budgetary reductions are part of more than $1 billion in cuts throughout all state agencies in an attempt to close an estimated $8.2 billion budget deficit in the coming year.
According to corrections officials, Moriah Shock has saved the state about $163 million since it was opened in 1987 by reducing the recidivism rate of those who participate in the boot camp-like program by nearly 10 percent relative to the general inmate population.
Moriah Shock is one of four upstate prisons, including Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility and the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, tagged for closure within the next 18 months.