Obama land grab.. but no help for the southern border.. This man just sucks
- 2010/05/18 12:16:18
- Read all 37 opinions
at US bid to bolster border
Homeland Security threatens to seize 4.9 acres
Clement Rainville (right) and his family at Morses Line, part of
Franklin, Vt. They say they need to keep the land to grow hay for their
farm’s dairy herd.
(Herb Swanson for The Boston Globe)
May 17, 2010
E-mail this article
Sending your article
Your article has been sent.
FRANKLIN, Vt. — The red brick
house sits unassumingly on a sleepy back road where the lush farmlands
of northern Vermont roll quietly into Canada. This is the Morses Line
border crossing, a point of entry into the United States where more than
three cars an hour constitute heavy traffic.
The bucolic setting of silos and sugar maples
has become the focus of a bitter dispute that pits one of America’s
most revered traditions — the family-owned farm — against the post-9/11
reality of terror attacks on US soil.
The Department of Homeland Security sees
Morses Line as a weak link in the nation’s borders, attractive to
terrorists trying to smuggle in lethal materials. The government is
planning an estimated $8 million renovation here as part of a nationwide
effort to secure border crossings.
It intends to acquire 4.9 acres of border
land on a dairy farm owned for three generations by the Rainville
family. Last month, the Rainvilles learned that if they refuse to sell
the land for $39,500, the government intends to seize it by eminent
The Rainvilles call
this an unjustified land-grab by federal bullies.
“They are trying to steamroll us,’’ said
Brian Rainville, 36, a high school government and civics teacher whose
grandfather bought the farm in 1946 and whose parents and two brothers
run it now. “We have a buyer holding a gun to our head saying you have
to sell or else.’’
Rainvilles say the land, where they grow a portion of the feed for 150
head of cattle, is worth far more than the offer, and is critical at a
time when the low price of milk has dairy farmers struggling to cover
the cost of production.
like taking a leg off a stool. If you reduce the hay, you reduce the
herd; if you reduce the herd, you immediately affect the viability of
the farm,’’ Brian Rainville said. “Last year, the farm lost money. Right
now, we are hanging on by our fingernails.’’
The family’s many supporters in the area
do not dispute that the Morses Line facility, some 50 miles southeast of
Montreal, is outdated. But they do not understand why the government
needs to spend millions on it.
whole thing is a perfect example of waste,’’ said Glen Gurwit of
Swanton, a customs inspector for 31 years who frequently worked at
Morses Line before retiring in 2004. He said the port is used mostly by
locals crossing to visit relatives, play hockey, or shop, and is notable
for its “peace, quiet, and isolation.’’
“We used to spend hours watching deer
graze,’’ he said.
Security officials counter that modernizing border facilities should be a
national priority. US Customs and Border Protection received $420
million in federal stimulus funds to renovate ports of entry along the
Canadian and Mexican borders.
Morses Line, one of
15 ports between Vermont and Quebec, was among the first in the country
slated for repair. It was built in 1934. Its only detention facility is a
set of handcuffs attached to a wooden bench. It has no place to inspect
vehicles, so customs officers have to do it in the middle of the road.
It has a road gate that they have to open and close manually. Its roof
“It is unsafe,’’ said
Marco A. Lopez, spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection.
Lopez said the government has been
cooperating with the Rainvilles, and responded to their concerns by
scaling back an earlier plan to use 10 acres of the farm.
Allison Stanger, director of the Rohatyn
Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College, said the
government is right to shore up aging, little-used border crossings.
“If there’s a weak link in the chain,
that’s precisely what our enemies would target for getting things into
the country,’’ she said. “It seems far-fetched to think that something
like this could happen in beautiful Vermont. But before it happened,
what American would have thought that someone would fly a plane into a
suggest that the Morses Line port, where only 14,811 vehicles crossed in
2009, could be shut down altogether. They say the stimulus money would
be better spent upgrading the busy Highgate Springs port 11 miles to the
west, where Interstate 89 connects with a Canadian route to Montreal.
Hundreds of thousands of vehicles cross there each year.
US Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont
Democrat who supports the family, raised the idea of closing the Morses
Line port with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano last month. Napolitano promised to hold a public hearing
Saturday in Franklin, Vt., the town that includes Morses Line.
Lopez said the government has already
hired a contractor, but he added that officials will hear out opinions
voiced at the meeting.
options are on the table,’’ he said. “If the community and the state and
whatever disagree with us, we will talk to Canada about closing the
The Rainvilles say
they have nothing against border officials. Two years ago, they closed
the farm so that law enforcement agencies could use it to conduct a
drill on the response to a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. But
they were rankled by a recent government assessment that described the
4.9 acres as undeveloped and insignificant to their operation.
The plot is a fraction of their 220-acre
property, but it constitutes about one-twelfth of their available hay
land. It yields 1,000 bales of hay a year; without it, the family would
need to buy the hay at $3.25 a bale, and possibly reduce the number of
cows, said Craig Rainville, 32.
calculates that the cost would soon exceed the sum the government is
offering, and cripple a farm that has been named to the National
Register of Historic Places for its intact 19th-century buildings and
pristine landscape and designated a Dairy of Distinction by the Vermont
Department of Agriculture.
family recently put up a “Save This Farm’’ sign at the entrance to the
Last week Brian
Rainville stood on a field of alfalfa and indicated orange posts erected
by government surveyors to delineate the boundaries of the disputed
“They look at it like a
vacant lot,’’ he said. “They do not understand how vital that land is
to who we are and what we do.’’
- As the Administration continues to crow.. Waking to a new dawn? More like sunset ...
- one day of silence
- Wal-Mart vs. The Morons in Washington DC
- Money Save your $$$$ ready for the great let down?
- Louis 14th?? Where is that Guillotine when you need one?
- View more slideshows »
Government shutdown or not, there's a new $100 bill in town -- and apparently, people love it!
If Congress doesn't agree on how the U.S. will pay its bills by October 1st, the federal government will shut down. But how concerned is the average American? Not very.
Ever since President Obama's re-election back in November, the media hasn't stopped reporting about the ruffled course of the Republican party. So who's the future face of the GOP? Find out how the public voted.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been at the center of media coverage for a while now. But more recently, the buzz has been about his proclaimed political party -- and whether or not he should change it.