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Update: Prison work continues

Despite efforts by the Trump administration to withdraw funding for the project, work continued this week on locating a new federal prison in Letcher County.

An appraiser hired by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons was in Roxana this week to meet with seven property owners whose land must be purchased before construction on the proposed $444 million facility can begin. The appraisals are expected to be finished within two weeks.

The proposed prison, which is expected to hire as many as 400 people after it opens, was in the news recently after President Donald Trump’s budget proposal to Congress called for cancelling the facility proposed for Letcher County and using the construction money that had been set aside during the Obama administration to upgrade the Thomson Correctional Center, an administrative U.S. penitentiary the Bureau of Prisons purchased from the state of Illinois in 2012.

Fifth District U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, who has worked with the allvolunteer

Letcher County Planning Commission for more than 10 years to bring the prison to Roxana, says the $444 million funding for the Letcher County prison was passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Barack Obama and cannot be changed without the approval of Congress.

“It is already law; that budget has already been passed into law,” Rogers told Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a hearing in Washington earlier this month.

During the budget hearing,

Rosenstein said the decision to ask that funding for the Letcher County prison be removed was “a tough budget choice,” adding “the Bureau of Prisons just felt that we didn’t need the prison at this time.”

Rosenstein’s comments came after Rogers asked him if the Justice Department’s budget request was “serious.”

“In your budget request, you specifically rescind the money for the facility,” Rogers told Rosenstein. “What I want to know is, are you serious?”

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