Thomson Residents: Scared, but Jobs Would Be "Fantastic"

Plan to bring terrorists to Illinois could mean jobs for miles around, residents say

By Dick Johnson and Steve Bryant
|  Thursday, Dec 17, 2009  |  Updated 6:17 PM CDT
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Illinois GOP Leaders React to Illinois' New Gitmo

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FILE - This May 27, 2009, file photo shows the entrance to the Two Rivers Detention Center in Hardin, Mont. The tiny town of 3,400, with a brand-new empty jail built two years ago, is competing with prisons in Marion, Ill., and Florence, Colo., to take Gitmo's displaced terror suspects. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

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Thomson "Will Be the Most Secure Prison in America"

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin comment on the decision to reopen a rural prison in Northwestern Illinois.

Illinois GOP Leaders React to Illinois' New Gitmo

Illinois Republicans say their reservations about housing Guantanamo Bay detainees at Thomson Correctional Center isn't about fear-mongering. It's about not rushing into a decision without legitimate questions being answered.
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Residents in the small, rural town where the Obama administration plans to send up to 100 terrorism suspects say they're slightly worried -- but mostly looking forward to the jobs.

"I have some concern about no one else wanting the Gitmo detainees and the stringent job qualifications the feds are requiring," said Tom Kocal, publisher of "The Prairie Advocate".

Obama's Council of Economic Advisers have said that activating Thomson could create 840-910 temporary jobs and 3,180-3,880 ongoing jobs, increasing local earnings by a cumulative $793 to $1,015 million.

Those jobs could be spread out across the area, Kocal notes.

"I've heard that maximum security guards often prefer to have a 60 to 90 minute drive home to decompress," Kocal said. "So this will be an opportunity for a 4 or 5 county area around us."

Other residents were equally sanguine about the news, or altogether excited.

"I think it's fantastic," said J.D. Gundlach, a Carroll County resident, who said he had no concerns. "None, none whatsoever ... and I'm a retired cop."

Shelby Kingery, 18, one of the relatively few young folks in the area, said Thomson would bring more people in to her family's pizza restaurant.

That point was affirmed by another business owner, Kurt Dreger, who runs a coffee shop, tanning salon and a UPS store.

"This county used to have 22,000 people," he said. "Now it's down to 15 thousand or so. We need this. It's going to be great for business."

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