Dear Gov. Pat Quinn: The Village of Thomson, Ill., in Carroll County would like to bring to your attention the dire economic plight of our town. We are home to the finest, state-of-the-art maximum security prison ever designed in Illinois and perhaps the nation. Unfortunately, this prison has remained unused since construction eight years ago.

As each fiscal year ends, local legislators work on our behalf and our hopes are raised. As each new budget passes without funding to open the prison, our hopes are dashed.

Expecting the prison to open, the village borrowed $9.6 million via a municipal bond to pay for construction of a new water treatment plant, water tower, infrastructure improvements and equipment. Interest payments to service this debt are $375,000 per year. Local merchants and investors built and planned new businesses. The village borrowed money to buy land for a new park, grants were received to expand our library and plans were designed for a housing development. But the prison has not opened.

The Thomson public school did not receive a new influx of students from families of prison employees. In 2005, we were forced to consolidate with two other schools in Carroll County. But the prison has not opened.

In the past eight years, we have held rallies, written petitions and taken bus trips to Springfield.

But the prison still has not opened.

We have the capacity to accommodate excess population for both guards and prisoners in a safer environment for either a state or federal prison. If the Illinois Department of Corrections has no need for this facility, perhaps the federal government would be interested.

After eight years of living in limbo, we are open to any and all alternatives, so this valuable asset can start paying dividends for our city, state or country.

Jerry Hebeler, village president

Thomson

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