When you type in Iowa county wages on the internet you will find 2018 2nd quarter with Jackson County being the second poorest county in the state and only Decatur County behind us in wages paid. If ever there was a city or county that needs better economic development it is ours. We are like a losing ball club ranked 98 of 99 counties and then we wonder why young families don’t move here and why school enrollment is down and why people move elsewhere for better jobs and never come back. Our kids are our biggest export. In 1980 county population was 22,503 currently it is 19,432. When Deb Newman was economic director over 30 years ago we were ranked 4th from the bottom and we have been falling ever since. Maquoketa hasn’t grown much since the time I left its high school in 1967. 

Any city that amounts to anything has two things going for it. It is on a major water way or has a railroad. We have neither. We lost our railroad. Our only economic life line is highway 61 south of town where they want to build the new jail. This area should be for business, factories, truck and semi traffic and keeping the truck and semi traffic from down town main street and close to Highway 61 for products in and out quickly. Not for a new jail.

I wonder, too, how many beds and how big a jail will be needed when marijuana becomes legal. Other counties won’t be sending prisoners here forever as they will figure out how to build their own jails.

Voting no for this new jail would be a yes vote for better planning and better economic development. There are better locations for this jail than in this area where it will kill economic development for the next 60 years or however long the jail lasts. Vote no for this jail because it needs a better location, location, location. The experts are wrong and it’s time to tell them so. Better economic development just might lead to less crime.

The stats and facts were obtained from the state of Iowa websites and spreadsheets 

Ralph Saunders