After 26 years in the paper-making business in Berlin, N.H., Eddy L’Heureux was laid off. He decided to become a correctional officer at a state prison. The Boston Globe reports that New Hampshire’s northernmost city, which has long relied on paper mills for its lifeblood, may now rely on prisons. Berlin is home to the $30 million, medium-security Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility that opened more than three years ago in the Androscoggin River Valley. Now the county, with the highest unemployment rate in the state, is awaiting construction of a new $154.5 million federal correctional facility scheduled to open in 2008.
“I want Berlin to grow. You’ve got to let it grow,” said Renee Stewart, 26, a saleswoman at Aubuchon Hardware, where the state prison bought waffle irons for its culinary program. “It’s jobs, even for people here when they’re building [a prison] . . . Even for the small shop owners. We’re going to have more people to shop there.”
The site for the medium-security federal prison, which will be second only to the Seabrook nuclear power plant as the state’s most ambitious public works project, is not determined. A possible location is near the 500-bed state prison.