Letter to the editor: Bad move, county

To the editor:

Recently, a woman threatened suicide in the parking lot of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. This incident highlights our community’s need for a mental health crisis center. The county has developed a plan for such a center that would provide vital mental health, substance abuse treatment and housing services. I commend the county and local service providers for this exciting plan and for their hard work in developing it.

However, I do not commend the county commissioners for their recent decision to combine funding for this center with funding for a jail expansion on a single ballot item. As this newspaper has noted (“Options exist,” Jan. 7, 2018), the commission did have viable options for separating these issues.

Many of us in this community cannot, in good conscience, support the current plan (or price tag) for jail expansion. Commissioners at their meeting this week formally approved ballot language to combine these items, so the mental health crisis center will essentially be held hostage by the jail expansion.

This is no way to run a county. Voters should be able to support the crisis center our community so desperately needs. And the jail expansion proposal should be considered on its own merits.