THOMSON (WIFR) -- After three years of hardball politics, the federal government announced it has bought Thomson Correctional Center from the State of Illinois for $165 million. The checks were cut in federal court this morning, right here in Rockford .
Today Illinois senator Dick Durbin said he was at his wit's end with trying to sell Thomson Prison to the feds, so he turned to President Obama for help and he made the executive decision to buy the prison over the objections of a veteran republican lawmaker.
The state of the art maximum-security prison was built in 2001, but sat mostly unused because the state of Illinois could not afford to run it.
After last year, the Federal Bureau of Prisons had money left over, which is the money being spent on Thomson. Originally, republican lawmakers were blocking the sale because they were worried alleged terrorists from Guantanamo Bay would be housed there, but because Thomson isn't a military prison, that would be illegal. Residents say it's been a long time coming.
“It means a lot. I'm the manager of a local business that has been struggling. It was built in 2000 in anticipation of the prison opening, and we have struggled and struggled and struggled, and this is just a God-send to us,” said Long-Time Thomson Resident, Donna Opheim.
Politicians are not saying when the prison will be open because it still has to undergo some major construction. The money for that still has to be appropriated. It will bring about 1,100 jobs to the area, not to mention millions of dollars in taxes.
The prison can house 1,600 inmates and cost $128 million to build back in 2001. The prison was recently appraised for $220 million dollars. State lawmakers say the federal government got the prison for a bargain.