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Thomson Prison to Be Opened

Editor's note:  Arthur C. Donart, Ph. D., resident of Thomson, IL, and thecity1.com contributing author, attended the announcement of much-anticipated news about the Thomson Correctional Facility.  His report follows.
 
thomson prisonAt 9:45 a.m., Thursday, September 5, 2013, Thomson, IL, Village President Vicky Trager called the meeting to order with a Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

United States Senator Richard Durbin, United States Representative Cheri Bustos, and Bill Dalius, Assistant Director for Administration from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) came to town to announce that the money to open the Thomson facility is in the FY 2014 Federal Budget--which begins Tuesday, October 1, 2013.  The four officials are seated left-to-right below.

That is the good news. The bad news is that, it may take until Halloween to get this budget passed by both the House and Senate and signed by the President.

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Dalius affirmed that as soon as the President signs the budget, FBOP is ready to let construction contracts on work to upgrade the facility immediately. Work should begin this fall. The upgrade is expected to cost $25 million and bring a fairly large number of construction jobs to the area.

Before the upgrade is completed, the Bureau of Prisons will be seeking new hires. Face-to-face interviews will take place in Thomson. People seeking employment should go first to the Government website and apply on-line at www.usa.gov.
 
The annual budget for the prison will be around $168 million a year.  It is expected to create 1100 jobs for residents of Illinois and Iowa. Senator Durbin emphasized that this is a bi-partisan effort, with Congressional delegations from both states supporting the project. Illinois' Junior Senator Mark Kirk is helping with the project.
 
In the question and answer period, it was asked if Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf would block the project, as he has in the past. Senator Durbin said the situation has changed, now that the Federal Government owns the prison. He said, "It would be a silly waste of money now, not to use it."

Dalius said that this is a safety issue for the FBOP, because their other maximum security facilities are 53% over-crowded. He stated there are no more prisons being built, and the FBOP is desperate to bring this facility on line. It is a two-year process.
 
Asked about the budget process, Senator Durbin said he was confident that they would get a budget, but that it may take awhile. He explained that although our deficits have been going down, Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling or default on its debts--which it has never done. This will be the pressure to finish the budget process. Referring to Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn's withholding Legislators' pay until they come up with pension reform, Senator Durbin said it might not be a bad idea to withhold Congress' pay until they get a budget passed.
 
When asked about a continuing resolution, he said there would probably be one for a very short time, but that, too, was silly, because then you are requiring the Government to spend money on projects that are finished or supplies they no longer need, which is a waste of money.
 
Congresswoman Bustos informed the group that she belongs to the "No Labels Group" of 83 members of Congress from both parties. They meet to come up with common sense legislation to reduce Government waste and improve efficiency.
 

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