Dwight prepares itself for economic hit

By Audrey Williams

Dwight prepares itself for economic hit

December 31, 2012 Updated Jan 3, 2013 at 2:59 PM CDT

Dwight Mayor Bill Wilkey says he first got the call from the Quinn administration last February. Governor Quinn has said with the closing of the Dwight and Tamms Prisons the state will save $100 million a year. Mayor Wilkey believes the numbers just don't add up.

"They've still got to clothe them, they've still got to provide food, medical, the same number of guards that's got to be watching them that's out here," Wilkey said.

The mayor says 400-500 people are employed at the prison. He says a survey that was conducted shows the economic impact of the facility's closure will be $40-50 million for Dwight and the surrounding areas.

"You go in Casey's at the shift breaks and there's people in there they're getting their lunches to take out there or else they're getting their gas to go home. Casey's is going to take a big hit," Wilkey said.

Dwight resident Mike Piper hopes the small community can make it through the tough times they have ahead. Piper says the mayor is working to bring more industry to the area, but that won't happen overnight.

"I think it's going to be very difficult for the tax-base to remain. You're going to have many homes for sale, the school is going to be affected," Piper said.  "Short-term it's going to be tough, but long-term maybe we can use some of the existing properties and facilities in Dwight to garner up some additional business."

 

Still, it seems plans are in motion to transfer nearly 1,000 female prisoners to Logan Prison near Lincoln. While the community watches and waits in the coming months, Mayor Wilkey still says his hope is dwindling, but it's still there.

"He says its going to happen, but I just have that little bit of hope that it's not going to happen," Wilkey said.

 

DWIGHT, Ill -- The community of Dwight is bracing itself for a major economic hit.

After an injunction was lifted in December, Governor Pat Quinn is going ahead with plans to close two prisons and two juvenile detention facilities.

The last inmates were moved out of Tamms Prison last week.  The all-female Dwight Correctional Facility is next.

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