Local Cities React To Thomson Prison Sale - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Local Cities React To Thomson Prison Sale

Updated: Oct 2, 2012 10:22 PM CDT

Towns and cities within 30 to 40 miles of Thomson will have huge economic benefits, due to the correction center being sold. Benefits range from new construction, to an influx of residents and people spending at local stores.

"Every time you turn around you see people leaving the area," says Savanna Mayor Larry Stebbins.

Savanna, Illinois is just a few miles north of Thomson. The highway connects the communities and their economic woes.

"It's the same area that's been depressed for so long," adds Mayor Stebbins.

In 2000, the Savanna Army Depot closed and 400 jobs were lost.

"They were good jobs," adds Mayor Stebbins, "It was an important military installation"

The army depot was on of the area's biggest employers and dozens of families left Carroll County.

"There were a lot of families, so it's been devastating for the area," says the Savanna Mayor.

Relief was supposed to come a few years later with the Thomson Correctional Center opening.

"We were terribly excited," says Mayor Stebbins, "They started building it and we expected people to start moving in. We did all kinds of things just waiting for all those people to move in."

Instead, the state prison was never fully occupied and then it sat empty. News the facility has been sold the Federal Bureau of Prisons is what the mayor of Savanna has been waiting for.

"My heart was just going a hundred miles and hour! We had good news."

Down Highway 84 and across the river, Clinton also has a declining population.

"I'm cautiously optimistic, because we've had news like this before," says Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich, "When it was built we heard that it was going to be a great boom for the community and that never occurred."

For Clinton the benefit is not people moving into the city.

"We have the department stores and we have the retail outlets people are looking for that the smaller towns can't offer," adds Mayor Vulich, "For us I'm looking at an influx of sales tax dollars."

Development is not happening just yet. Communities near Thomson Prison are waiting, just in case.

"I think the day they announce the time table is the day we really get started on this," says Mayor Vulich.

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