THOMSON, Ill. — While elected officials hailed Tuesday’s announcement that the Thomson Correctional Facility had been sold to the federal government as the end of a long process, others in the northwest Illinois community remain skeptical.

Village Board President Jerry “Duke” Hebeler, Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced at a news conference Tuesday at Thomson Village Hall that the

long-vacant prison had been sold to the federal government for $165 million for use as a federal prison.

Officials said they did not have information about what changes would be made to the facility to bring it up to federal standards, when the hiring process would begin or when the prison might be open.

Durbin credited Hebeler with coming up with the idea of selling the state prison, which has gone virtually unused since its completion in 2001, to the federal government for use as a federal prison.

“It has been a long journey to this moment,” Durbin said.

The fact that the announcement was made one day before the first debate between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney and fewer than 40 days before the election wasn’t lost on Janet St. Ores of Thomson.

“This is just an election-year gimmick, that’s all it is,” she said.

The prison opening is expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area, jobs Quinn said the area needs.

“There’s no such thing as Democratic jobs or Republican jobs,” he said. “They’re American jobs.”

While local residents have traditionally met news about plans to open the prison with skepticism, Hebeler said the fact that the federal government paid the money for the prison Tuesday gives Thomson residents reason to believe this time the plan will come to fruition.

“This is different,” he said. “They’ll do the job.”

At Dusty’s Pizza Place down the street from the Village Hall, owner Sue Spittler said the opening of the prison would be a big boost for her business and others in town, and she thought Tuesday’s announcement was a step in the right direction.

Still, she said she is skeptical and thinks others in the community feel the same way.

“Nobody’s jumping up and down about it, really,” she said. “I probably still have a better chance of winning the lottery.”

(5) comments

senor citizen

Those who have been concerned over the possibility of Gitmo prisoners being housed at Thomson should remember the President "got" bin Laden. I hope you don't doubt the nation's and your own security over this, just relax the President will take care of everything just before the election.

Cubs17

This headline is unbelievable. This paper is the worst example of lame stream media there is and I will no longer support it. When you can report the news fair and without your opinion, maybe I will read it again. Why don't you shine his shoes while your at it. Wow! Obama closes $165 million deal for Thomson prison sale! He probably doesnt even know about it yet. He was in office in Illinois when they built this and then forgot to fund it. Gee, where is the story about that. Grow up QCTimes and become a grown up news paper.

bobbie1665

4America too bad you don't know what your talking about Congress blocked the sell of prison and not the President. The President has been in favor of buying the prison from day one.

just curious

Indeed, Congress blocked the sale of the prison, so barack hussein used an executive order to spend 165 Million of taxpayer dollars as an 'earmark' for durbin. He thinks that he is the king and congress is a pesky fly on his a**, so he does what he darn well pleases . So folks are saying that it will create about 1000 jobs, jobs which are also paid by taxpayers. I vote to change the name of the prison to obamaville.

4America

A desperate act by a desperate president looking for votes? He could have done this before, why wait until 30 days before the election?????:

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