Luke Simons found his inner “Charles Kuralt” on a trip through New England recently.
The District 36 representative from Dickinson posted a video on Facebook supporting the fight to keep the Dakota Womens Correctional and Rehabilitation Center (DWCRC) open and in New England.
The four minute video started showing him on a recent Saturday heading north on Main Street from where St. Mary’s Catholic Church is located.
“I am driving through New England, North Dakota,” he said after introducing himself. “I have shingles most of this town. I have been in business with a roofing company, cleaning gutters and I’ll tell you what… What a beautiful community. A sense of community. You can’t walk down the street without a farmer or a townsperson coming and talking to you. Just a beautiful little community.
“And of course, the Womens New England prison brings us up here today. The governor would like to move the womens New England prison and it is a shame that we would want to move this prison.
“Six counties got together and literally are saving the state millions of dollars per year by having a North Dakota-style beautiful facility for the womens correction center. I’m telling you, it is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. A nice staff, a really nice staff. I went to school with some of these people keeping this little community live and well,” he said.
“They have a beautiful school here. Very nice community. You talk about Downtown Initiative? This is it.
“These counties (Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark) got together and literally put this money together, saving the state millions.
“So, we are fighting hard, of course, and if you are watching the news at all the prison of North Dakota would like to move this to the Bismarck area. Which is an absolute shame, really, to say the least. They are claiming it is going to cost …$60 million dollars to build a brand new facility. In reality, they are going to have to bond to do that, which is a bad situation. It is probably going to cost them $80 to $100 million … and that is more realistic. And so many lies that are going around … I am not going to mention who by, but it’s horrible,” he said, with a sigh.
“I have a whole lot of homework to do on this womens prison, because we are going to work hard to keep it right here,” he added.
“I don’t think the atmosphere in the house or the senate is to where we want to spend another $80 to $100 million, especially when you have counties which have bonded together and put a beautiful facility – this facility is a fairly new facility… I think the oldest part of the building is like 1983 and some of it is 2014.
“It is a beautiful facility, absolutely gorgeous. You should come down and visit it, if you have never seen it. What a great staff.
“Regardless, if you ever are on a tour, you have to stop by the little town of New England. It is a beautiful community,” he added.
To close out his posted video, he found what Kuralt would have describes as one of the community’s hidden treasures – a multi-colored Rambler – parked on Main Street. “I got to show you guys something. Check this out. That is cool. What a sense of community,” he added.
The video was posted to Facebook March 16 and reported by the prison just an hour later.