STANDISH, Mich. (AP/WOOD) - Opponents dominated a town hall meeting Thursday on whetherGuantanamo Bay terrorism suspects should be transferred to themaximum security prison in Standish.
Every speaker but one criticized the idea during the two-hourmeeting at a local church. Many were from outside the area, whileothers were employees of the state prison fearing they would losetheir jobs if the Guantanamo inmates are moved to Standish.
"President Obama cannot put those prisoners on U.S. soil," saidPaul Piche, a long-time prison guard. "They don't belong on U.S.soil, ever. There's nothing wrong with Guantanamo Bay. It's notbroken."
The Obama administration is considering sending the 229detainees to the prison, which is scheduled to close this yearbecause of state budget cuts.
Critics said the detainees' presence could make Michigan aterrorist target.
Merle Decker lives across a cornfield from the prison. He saidhe'll move out if it houses Guantanamo Bay terrorism suspects.
"I just wouldn't want to live with it up here too close to me,"he said. "...Them people are liable to do anything."
City Manager Michael Moran said in an interview a "silentmajority" of local residents is open to hosting the detainees tosave the prison, which is the area's top employer. If the prisonwere to close, about 340 jobs would be lost.
"This is an issue for Standish and for people who live in thecommunity," Moran said. "This particular town hall meeting wascalled by people who felt strongly we should not even considerGuantanamo."
He would prefer Michigan not close the state prison, but saysthe federal prison jobs would boost the town.
"If we speculated 500 to 1200 military military staff coming in,and their families, that again would certainly help the community,"Moran said.
But U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, questioned whether anylocals would get prison jobs. They would likely go to theDepartment of Defense, he said.
When asked what she has been hearing around town about Gitmo,one waitress answered:
"Pros and cons. Yeah, it's good, but then it's not good," saidLori Curtis, who works at the Standish Baker. "It will make money,but what about terrorism?"
A group of federal officials inspected the prison last week, butthe White House says no decision has been made.
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In front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
Mirror parts found at the scene indicate it may be a 2005 Chevrolet Uplander.