The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 13, 2014

Official: Prison could be activated in 2016

FULTON, Ill. — Ongoing deliberations continue for the activation of the Thomson, Ill., Correctional Facility and it remains unknown what the future holds for the federal prison.

However, during a Fulton City Council budget work session on Monday, Fulton Police Chief Dave Bartels told the group he had received information last week from a representative of the Bureau of Prisons about the facility’s activation.

According to Bartels, the representative announced that the BOP has allocated money to physical work on the prison, which is required before it can be opened, but did not release how much money was allocated. He added that the BOP representative said there has not been money set aside for any law enforcement or staffing needs.

“Number one, the money’s been allocated to do the physical work on the prison,” Bartels said. “Everybody’s asking will there be money for law enforcement or staff or squad cars and he said there’s no money set aside for any of that now, federally.”

He also announced that the BOP representative expects 800 jobs to be generated with the activation of the Thomson prison, depending on which type of prisoners will be housed at the facility, and said a large percentage of those employees will be hired locally.

Commanding staff and training personnel will be relocated from other facilities, said Bartels, but the majority of prison staff will be recruited from the surrounding areas.

Colin Milligan, director of Communications for Congresswoman Cheri Bustos D-IL, an advocate for the Thomson prison activation, said he has not received confirmation from the BOP that money has been allocated for the prison just yet.

“The latest that I know is back in January, Congress passed an appropriations bill that the President signed that gave money to the Bureau of Prisons,” Milligan said. “Right now we’re waiting to hear back from the Bureau of Prisons for what they’re planning on spending that money on.”

Despite not knowing how much money was allocated, or what kind of prison Thomson will become, Bartels told the council on Monday that the BOP representative predicted it would be activated sometime in 2016.

“Just a bottom line, he said probably the beginning, sometime during 2016 would be his best guess as when it would attempt to be up and running,” Bartels said.

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