08/20/05 — Prison camp’s contributions to community will be missed

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Prison camp’s contributions to community will be missed

It is not the announcement that Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is closing, so it will not get the attention it deserves — or cause the ripple it might have.

But that fact does not mean the announcement last week that the Federal Prison Camp at Seymour Johnson is closing is any less important to this community.

The camp, which has been in operation since the early 1990s, has been a part of this community for enough years that its loss will have an impact on Wayne County and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

There are hundreds of volunteer hours that have been covered by inmates from the prison camp and many dollars that have been saved by organizations that were able to take advantage of the services of inmates from the camp.

The Air Force base also has benefited. Inmate labor takes care of many of the duties that otherwise would have to be done by Seymour Johnson personnel.
The base will certainly feel the loss.

And then there are the hundreds of employees who have come and gone over the years. The prison camp has been a steady employer for many Wayne County families. There is even a time capsule buried on the prison grounds, which officials plan to open before the closure date.

There is not much left to say about the closure except to acknowledge the hard-working men and women who have contributed some of their lives to the programs in Wayne County.

It will be hard to say goodbye to them. Many of them have become valuable contributors in this community. In addition to their work at the prison, many of them volunteer themselves and have been trusted neighbors and friends.

They will be missed.

So, as the prison camp prepares for shutdown, there are reasons to think back and be grateful for the positives that have resulted from its relationship with the community.

And there are many people to recognize for the hard work they do every day, and the contributions they have made to Wayne County.

Published in Editorials on August 20, 2005 10:41 PM