Six officials participated in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Friday morning, marking the official opening of FCI-Berlin — the 118th facility in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP): Congressman Charlie Bass, left; Director Charles E. Samuels Jr., Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen; FCI-Berlin Warden Deborah Schult, Ph.D.; Berlin Mayor and Coös County Commissioner Paul Grenier; and Regional Director Joseph L. Norwood of the Northeast Regional Office in Philadelphia. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
October 24, 2012BERLIN — "I recognized at least 50 faces at the ribbon-cutting ceremony," reported Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier happily after Friday morning's closed-to-the-press ribbon-cutting ceremony at the massive Federal Corrections Institution-Berlin.
About half the 200-plus audience was made up of FCI-Berlin employees, including the 16 staff members who were recognized for playing an important part in preparing for its activation.
The eight-page Staff Recognition Ceremony program listed 139 men and women on that day's FCI-Berlin employee roster.
Mark Belanger, manager of the Berlin office of the state Department of Employment Security, said that he had seen many happy faces of area workers who had used DES and other local services to find new jobs in the federal facility.
"Some came over and shook my hand," he said, grinning with pleasure. Belanger is a key member of the Northern N. H. Talent Team that helped prepare the region's workforce for new employment opportunities as well as helping local businesses understand how to do business with FCI-Berlin.
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, pointed out that it had taken a bipartisan effort to bring the federal prison to Berlin, helping to diversify and shore up its economic base. A three-term governor, Shaheen served in the Corner Office from Jan. 1997 to Jan. 2003, and U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, a Republican, served three terms, from Jan. 1993 to Jan. 2011. Opening the new prison, Shaheen said, will also help relieve overcrowded conditions at other federal correctional facilities.
Congressman Charlie Bass, a Republican, said that the state's Congressional delegation must be ever vigilant to ensure that FCI-Berlin is fully funded.
Warden Deborah Schult, Ph.D., a native of Billerica, Mass., who earned her doctorate in psychology, explained: "FCI-Berlin is proud and ready to serve its role of protecting society by confining offenders in a controlled environment that is safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure and that provides work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens. Our real strength," she said, "is derived from our diverse, well-trained and career-oriented team of correctional professionals who are committed to fulfilling our two-fold Mission of Security and Re-entry. It is our Vision that FCI-Berlin will become a much-sought-after work site, given our reputation for outstanding morale and high standards of excellence."
FCI-Berlin is a medium-security facility, located on a hill on the east side of the city — north of the state's Northern N.H. Correctional Facility — is designed to house 1,152 male offenders. An adjacent now-occupied satellite prison camp is designed to house 128 minimum-security male inmates.
District I Executive Councilor Ray Burton was on hand for the ceremony, as well as outgoing state Senator John Gallus of Berlin. Many federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, including Sheriff Gerry Marcou of Gorham, were also on hand.