U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos hosted a meeting in Thomson on Thursday. They updated officials in this tiny community about the status of the prison, which has sat mostly unused over the past decade.
The state of Illinois originally built the facility, but never had the funds to fully open it. The prison was sold to the federal government last fall. While the president and the Senate have set aside money to activate Thomson, the House has yet to commit the necessary funds. Meanwhile, Durbin says he understands why residents in Thomson are trying to keep their hopes in check:
"I understand the frustration of local people. For 16 years, we've heard nothing but promises and nothing's happened."
Supporters of the effort say opening the prison could bring as many as 11-hundred jobs to a struggling region. If Congress approves a budget with money for Thomson, Durbin says the prison could open by 2015.