Comanche County_GEO will be building a second prison facility in Comanche County. Comanche County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the proposal Monday after its public hearing. It's to be built directly east of the current GEO facility. The new location will house 1,500 inmates and provide 300 new full-time jobs to the county.
Commissioners originally heard the proposal for a second facility two weeks ago, but did not vote on the proposal amid public concerns and scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for July 28.
At the public hearing, commissioners listened to an anxious crowd voice opinions. "I don't want to live across the street from a prison," said one resident. "But one of my children does now, because they were already there." Living near a prison seemed to be a common concern. Concerns ranged from the feeling of being boxed in by the prison - a feeling of actually living inside, concerns about the proximity of the speedway to the prison, and even feelings about driving past a "little Las Vegas" after nightfall. GEO officials addressed concerns and said that they intend to raise the issue to their employees. Sheriff Kenny Stradley promised more patrolling in the area as well.
Another concern brought to the floor was what economic impact the prison might have on the school system. The first proposed site saw all tax revenue go to Geronimo Schools, but with the change in sites, the money will now be split between Geronimo Schools and Lawton Public Schools. In general, however, the mood in the room seemed to be more in favor of building the prison than against it. The enormous economic impact outweighed the cons.
Commissioners agreed that the creation of 300 new jobs, and additional taxes flooding the counties quashed negative considerations. The facility will be in the county, unlike the current facility which has been annexed within city limits. This means that the GEO Prison will utilize the county police and fire departments. GEO already is seeking a builder for the new facility, and hopes to break ground by the end of August. They expect to complete construction and open by January 1, 2010.
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