Thomson Prison Plan Closer Than Ever - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Thomson Prison Plan Closer Than Ever

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Lawmakers revealed a plan to open Thompson Prison, something that would take two years to do. 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons plans to hire 300 employees in the first year and do $25 million worth of upgrades to bring it up to modern standards.

Then in year two, they need $168 million to finish hiring 1,100 employees and open the facility. This all depends on Congress and the President approving a federal budget that includes funding for the prison.

Thomson has been through three mayors and over a decade long wait to get to get to this point, and are finally getting a timeline and a plan for the opening of Thomson prison but still no concrete start date. 

1,100 jobs and millions of dollars in economic development would be coming but it's all on hold until federal funds are approved.

"Until there is an agreement between the House, the Senate and the President about the budget for the next year, we're going to be ready but not in a position to spend money," said Senator Dick Durbin.

For area residents, the opening of Thomson Prison has been a back and forth promise for years.

"The prison was built, the funding was pulled, and then the funding was there, and then Governor Ryan vetoed it," said Gerald Bork of Mount Carroll.
     
Frustration mounted for over a decade.

"You've seen several small local businesses start up with the hope of the prison," said Kurt Brunner, also of Mount Carroll. "You've seen stores come and go."
     
The meeting, held in a school that's been nearly empty since 2005, when area school districts consolidated, was a reminder of how much the community needs this.

"It is very typical in cities where we need this type of economic boost to bring things back up a little bit," said Vicky Bealer Trager, Thomson Village President.  
     
But Senator Durbin is saying Thomson Prison is closer to reality than ever before. 

"I think our argument today is stronger than ever," said Durbin. "The difference now is the Federal Government owns this prison, it's on our books and we're not using. What a waste."
     
And residents are holding lawmakers to their word.

"It's the closest we've ever been, and I think this is the step right now," said Brunner. "That we're this close, right now, we have to push forward and accomplish this."