Wed March 16, 2011

Southeastern Colorado Courting New Employers to Fill Fort Lyon Facility

Bent County officials are busy sketching out their next steps now that closure of Fort Lyon Correctional Facility is imminent.

The good news is leaders have more time to attract a new tenant to the building than originally thought. That’s because the Joint Budget Committee decided earlier this week change the closure date of the prison to March 1, 2011.

While the decision of shutting down the prison is disappointing for many in the region, it does give people like Bent County Commissioner Bill Long more time to court new employers to the building. He says in the coming weeks he’ll be approaching the VA to consider Fort Lyon for a substance abuse program and rehab facility for wounded veterans.

“That is similar to the mission of the facility before the State of Colorado Corrections Department took it over,” he said. “I think folks in at least our community in the valley would be happy to have it become something similar to that again.”

The buildings were used as a veteran’s hospital before the federal government gifted it to the state 10 years ago.

After the prisoners are transferred next year and it’s fully shut down, lawmakers estimate the closure could save Colorado about $6.3 million per year. Long says he’s getting support from the state and other local governments in southern Colorado in the search.

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