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Appleton prison may reopen in 2012

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

APPLETON -- The Prairie Correctional Facility at Appleton may reopen in 2012 and house prisoners from California, the owner of the vacant 1,600-bed prison an-nounced Friday.

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According to a news release from Corrections Corporation of America, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation intends to award a new contract to Corrections Corporation of America to manage up to 3,256 offenders at the Appleton facility and the company's Crowley County Correctional Facility in Colorado.

Ron Ronning, mayor of Appleton and a 16-year employee of the Prairie Correctional Facility, said Friday that the information was positive for his community and for the employees who lost their jobs when the prison closed in February.

"The good news is they are coming in 2012," he said. "The bad news is that it's a year away."

Ronning is hoping the prison will reopen early in 2012 and that employees get back to work before the opening with training and gearing up.

Some of the Prairie Correctional Facility employees went to work at other Corrections Corporation of America facilities and are eager to come home, Ronning said. Others are waiting and want to get back to work at the Appleton facility.

The news release noted the company does not have any specific time frame related to employees being hired at Prairie Correctional Facility.

"CCA has consistently had a strong commitment to the Appleton community and to our dedicated employees who served at our Prairie facility. Since having closed the facility in February 2010, our team has continuously worked to find a new government contract so we could once again bring needed jobs and strong correctional operations back to the local community," said Steve Conry, vice president of Corrections Corporation of America operations in Minnesota. "While it is much too early for us to know the exact timing of the potential reopening of Prairie, we assure the Appleton community and all former Prairie employees that we will keep open the lines of communication and will provide information as soon as we have news to share."

At full operation, the economic value of Prairie Correctional Facility was estimated at $45 million a year.

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