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Rockingham Rejects Detention Center Plan

Howard Weiss-Tisman
Rockingham voted 1,053 to 287 against a proposed plan to build a detention center in Belllows Falls.

Rockingham voters sent a clear signal that they did not want a proposed detention center in Bellows Falls.

In a Town Meeting Day nonbinding referendum Rockingham voted 1,053 to 287 to reject a plan by Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark to build a 150-bed detention center in Bellows Falls, which is a village within the town of Rockingham.

Clark was eyeing the former Liberty Mill in Bellows Falls as a potential site for the project, but this week he said that specific site was off the table after an engineering study found significant structural problems.

Clark says he's still looking for a location, and it's unclear how the nonbinding vote will affect any future plans.

The Town Meeting Day ballot specifically asked voters if they supported a detention center within the legal boundaries of Bellows Falls, but Clark now says he is considering a location in greater Rockingham.

Clark also announced this week that he was working with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to assist with the project.

He says the NIC will be sending an assessment team to the county. The justice assessment team is the first of many steps in the process the NIC will assist with.

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