The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 15, 2014

Funding for activation set

CLINTON Big news hit the Gateway area Tuesday regarding the Thomson, Ill., Correctional Center, but local government and city leaders aren't banking on it just yet.

After Congressional negotiators announced that a massive spending bill would include funding to activate the Thomson prison as a federal facility, the news received mixed reviews from local officials.

"It'll mean a lot to us from a morale standpoint and there will be a big sigh of relief," Village of Thomson President Vicky Trager said. "But I don't know when they'll get around to it."

Although money has been set aside to fund the prison's opening, the spending bill still needs to pass through both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and gain approval from President Obama before being signed into the federal budget.

"I think right now a lot of businesses and developers are a little gun shy until they see that money is actually allocated," Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich said. "I'll be more excited when I see the president has actually signed the bill."

If the bill is passed, the prison won't be fully operational until after renovations that are expected to cost $25 million and take two years are complete.

In addition to the $25 million renovation costs, another $170 million will be needed for equipment and staffing the prison, which brings up concern of how much money is being set aside in the spending bill.

"What's not revealed in there is how much money they are talking about," Clinton Regional Development Corp. President and CEO Mike Kirchhoff said.

According to a press release from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, the bill does not detail how the money will be spent, but both feel confident that funding for the facility’s activation remains a top priority for the Obama Administration.

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