Governor Chet Culver joined hundreds of others this morning at the ground breaking ceremony for the new Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.
Culver, a Democrat, who signed the legislation two years ago for the project, says it’s an historic day for the state.
“This is another sign of progress in this state, it’s taken a long time to get to this point, but we’ve all really pulled together for the good of southeast Iowa, for the good of the State of Iowa, and again I am very pleased that we’re going to build the best maximum security prison in the United States of America,” Culver said.
Culver says there are a number of positives that go with the 130-million dollar project, including the focus on energy efficiency. He says it’s especially important to look at the job creation with the project.
“We’re going to create as many as 500 new good-paying jobs when we build this new maximum security prison,” Culver says, “and that is a tremendous thing during some challenging times in our state, we’re going to show once again, despite those challenges, we’ve overcome them. And we’re going to focus every single day on job creation.”
State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald talk about the cost of the 20-year bonding plan. He noted the state will be able to pay about 17-million dollars per year using money collected through fines and fees. Fitzgerald says that means there won’t be any income or property tax used to pay for the prison, and only those who break the law will pay. The new 800-bed facility could be completed as early as December 2012.
By Michael Cation, KBUR, Burlington