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The Morses Line Port of
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome everyone. I
am Bill Rowell from Highgate.
Messrs et Madams. Je m'appelle Bill Rowell, au Vermont, nous
apprecion pour se faison pour nous aujourd hui, merci.
are proud to share this beautiful region with our friends and
neighbors from Quebec, and really, we are all quite fortunate to
have the opportunity.
Occasionally, we find ourselves at an unintended destination,
which is the case today.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this morning we intend to demonstrate our
need and community support for keeping the Morse's Line Port of
Entry open. Morse's Line is a small Port of Entry and does not
account for high volumes of traffic experienced at major ports,
although it does serve as relief for Highgate Springs during
times of heavy traffic, or crisis.
Compare Highgate Springs to Detroit, both are major ports
servicing a much greater region but Highgate Springs is paled by
comparison. We understand it is about service to the region, not
size. Morses Line shouldn't be compared to a major Port of
Entry. Morse's Line accounts for much of our local traffic and
services an expanded community, which has come to exist in two
Federal Government is charged with the responsibility of
securing the borders of the United States and requires the
Department of Homeland Security to protect national interests by
doing just that.
Department of Homeland Security in the interest of national
security recognized a need to update the Morse's Line Port of
Entry, here in Franklin Vermont. The proposed project was to
cost more than $15,000,000 and would require 10.5 acres of land
from Clement Rainville's family farm.
A 4.9-acre footprint
Repair and alternations to the existing facility
negotiations to procure the land proved unfavorable to the
Rainvilles, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that if
negotiations were not successful the land could be taken by
Eminent Domain, in the interest of National Security.
an attempt to suppress that action, the Rainville family used as
a platform "Save the Family Farm".
informational meeting held here in May signaled strong support
for the Rainvilles, which the government misinterpreted as a
lack of community support for Morse's Line. A short time later
the Department of Homeland Security announced it would begin
proceedings to close the port, no meeting had been warned and no
dialogue had been established with the Canadian Government.
Since that announcement the community at large, Vermont and
Quebec, recognized the need to send a strong signal to
Washington, which demonstrates the importance to our region of
keeping the port open.
select boards of Franklin and Highgate along with the North West
Regional Planning Commission and Franklin County Industrial
Development Corporation have served as a task force to organize
today's meeting. They have gathered information from the
government (which is a task in itself), developed an Agenda,
warned a public meeting and delivered invitations (mostly to
Neighboring towns immediately recognized the importance of this
issue, every board we approached voted in favor. Franklin,
Highgate, Enosburg, Sheldon, Fairfield, Swanton Village, Swanton
Town, St. Albans City, the Northwest Regional Planning
Commission and the Franklin County Industrial Development
Corporation all understand that closing the Morse's Line Port of
Entry would be detrimental to our region and beyond.
Quebec is Vermont's largest trading partner. We are linked
together in many ways but sending the wrong signal would have a
negative effect on billions of dollars worth of trade and
The loss of this port will impede the efforts of many area
farmers and business people performing their routine duties.
We'll hear from some of these folks shortly.
We expect mutual aid between neighboring communities would be
handicapped. During times of crisis, we depend on all emergency
services being readily available.
Vermont is a tourist state, many thousands of visitors who also
bike , snowmobile and hike on the many miles of recreation
trails which we have gone to great effort and expense to
develop, will find it an in convenience and oversight on our
part if closed. Many of our towns will experience shrinking
revenues as a result.
Eliminating this historic route for the many families on both
sides of the border diminishes cultural exchange and discourages
community at large finds it difficult to understand how the U.S.
Government went from spending over $15,000,000 on a new
facility, announcing it would exercise Eminent Domain in the
interest of National Security, fail to investigate all options,
and then, in the blink of an eye, completely abandon its efforts
by announcing a decision to begin proceedings to close the Port
There appears to be something of a fly in the ointment here,
this isn't a decision we're even remotely interested in. What
happened to National Security?
Surveillance will be compromised by a lack of human presence,
perhaps it can be accomplished electronically, but lead-time
becomes a factor. The Morse's Line Port of Entry is on a
well-established route, simply closing the door will become a
persistent security problem and it shows blatant disregard for
the needs of our region. The southern border is enough of a
situation without creating one here.
recognize a responsibility to support our government; we also
recognize government's responsibility to the people of our
region. We ask respectfully that the Department of Homeland
Security resume its process of discovery, which was interrupted
and now threatens infrastructure of the region and leaves our
security hanging in the balance.
ask that the Department of Homeland Security fully explore all
options, seek other possibilities, either find or develop a
solution that is less obtrusive, yet consistent with meeting our
needs in the interest of National Security which instills
confidence in us for a more reasonable expense to the taxpayer.
suggest the Department of Homeland Security confer with the
Selectboards of Franklin and Highgate as well as the Northwest
Regional Planning Commission and Franklin County Industrial
Development Corporation as part of the discovery process to gain
a better understanding of our needs.
community's expectations of government are that of due diligence
and integrity, we do not accept being written off as a sleepy
little community divided by a border between our countries. If
we step on someone's pride it appears disrespectful, doing it to
an entire community is irresponsible.
respectfully ask for your cooperation to resolve this matter.