Morses Line Border Crossing Will Close
06/03/10 5:50PM By Ross Sneyd
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(Host) A northern Vermont farm family has succeeded in its struggle against the federal government.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says a border crossing in tiny Morses Line not only won't be expanded. It'll close.
VPR's Ross Sneyd has more.
(Sneyd) Elizabeth Rainville says her family just cut the hay from a five-acre field adjacent to the Morses Line border crossing.
(Rainville) "They have plowed part of it and they're about to plant corn when it stops raining. And that would be part of where they wanted the land."
(Sneyd) "They" is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The department wanted to spend $15 million in federal stimulus money to expand a little-used border station.
Federal officials say they needed the Rainvilles' land to accommodate the project. But the Rainvilles said it was valuable cropland for their dairy operation that they couldn't afford to give up.
Here's Elizabeth Rainville again.
(Rainville) "It's been a lot of pressure on us for the last 14 months, almost 15 months, not knowing where this was going. And we're glad that we're coming to a conclusion and not let the government spend all this money where it shouldn't be spent."
(Sneyd) Mrs. Rainville credits her son, Brian, with turning around what the family says could have threatened their farm.
Brian Rainville recently testified before Congress that there was a clash of cultures with Homeland Security.
(Rainville) "My family said clearly, ‘This is vital cropland.' Their environmental assessment said, ‘This is a vacant lot.'"
(Sneyd) Brian Rainville brought the Vermont congressional delegation around to his side.
At a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chairman Patrick Leahy asked Secretary Napolitano to just close the Morses Line border crossing.
Leahy says there was no national security need to expand at Morses Line.
(Leahy) "If it'd been a very heavy crossing, it'd be one thing. But it's such a small crossing, there's other crossings nearby. It raised a real issue."
(Sneyd) The border station is closed overnight. And some estimates say an average of only 2.5 vehicles pass through the station every eight hours.
For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.