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1/14/2010 10:34:00 PM
Prescott Valley residents sound off on prison
Supporters, opponents let council members know their feelings
Heidi Dahms Foster/CourtesyCorrections Corporation of America Senior Site Acquisition Director Brad Wiggins stands among a full house crowd Thursday night after speaking about his company's proposal to build a 5,000 bed prison in Prescott Valley.
Heidi Dahms Foster/Courtesy


Corrections Corporation of America Senior Site Acquisition Director Brad Wiggins stands among a full house crowd Thursday night after speaking about his company's proposal to build a 5,000 bed prison in Prescott Valley.

Heidi Dahms Foster/CourtesyKenny Adams holds up a handmade sign he brought to council Thursday night to express his opposition to a prison in Prescott Valley.
Heidi Dahms Foster/Courtesy

Kenny Adams holds up a handmade sign he brought to council Thursday night to express his opposition to a prison in Prescott Valley.

Heidi Dahms-Foster
Special to The Daily Courier


A standing-room-only crowd waited through an hour of regular council business Thursday night to air their views about a proposed prison in Prescott Valley.

Before the meeting, representatives of both sides met people coming into the meeting with pro and con information about the proposal that would bring a private prison with as many as 5,000 beds to Prescott Valley.

Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn., approached Prescott Valley as one of the potential sites for the new prison. Brad Wiggins, senior director of site acquisition for CCA, said the prison would include a capital investment of $200 million as well as 300 to 400 construction jobs and 400 full-time jobs with benefits in the community.

The Criminal Justice Budget Reconciliation Bill authorizes the Department of Corrections to issue an RFP for 5,000 new private prison beds, according to the website for the budget committee. The RFP will allow awarding one or more contracts; permit the private sector to bid on all or a portion of the beds; allow the beds to be located at new, existing or expanded facilities; and specify a maximum contract period of 20 years.

Those who spoke in support of the prison said they mostly want to bring jobs to the community.

Jeri Ann Kooiman, who with her husband Dave owns a realty and construction company, said she saw several people as she entered the building who had lost their homes in the past year, were ready to lose their homes, and who had lost their businesses in the economic downturn.

"Their hopes and dreams of thriving in this community that they chose to call home are now gone," she said. "We come before you tonight to show you our support in bringing jobs to our community."

Kooiman also spoke to those who expressed surprise that the town would again consider a prison. Two years ago, public opposition convinced the council to turn down a proposal from Management & Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, to build a private prison at the same site.

"We ask you to educate yourselves, inform yourselves, and investigate every and all industry and company that comes knocking at our doors. An opportunity for jobs is on our horizon right now," Kooiman said. "Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation has simply been approached to provide workforce and other information to CCA. We would be remiss if we did not follow up on every single lead for jobs in Prescott Valley."

Resident Jason Sudweeks followed up when he told the council that he had recently lost his business, and is in the process of losing his home. The father of seven children said he doesn't want to leave Prescott Valley, but he's discouraged by the quality of jobs here.

"I would welcome this prison, and I would be the first to stand in line to apply for a job," he said.

Former Prescott Valley mayor Carm Staker said she has lived in the community for more than 30 years, and has been continually concerned about the lack of jobs.

"I think it is so important to do everything we can to enable our young people, and our not-so-young people, to find jobs here in Prescott Valley," she said. "I urge you to support this correctional facility."

Speakers in opposition to the prison spoke passionately about issues including the kind of people a prison would bring to the community; the effects of the prison on infrastructure, water supplies and home values; strains on health care and law enforcement; and how many of the construction and other jobs would actually go to existing residents.

"These jobs and construction claims are fairy dust," said one audience member. "These companies have contractors and companies that supply them. If you think they are going to open a 5,000-bed prison with employees from this town, you have another thing coming. They aren't going to open up jobs like that for people with no experience in corrections," he said.

Resident Susan Orlick said she understands that people are concerned about jobs, "but that doesn't mean we have to sell our soul, and it doesn't mean those jobs are for our community.

"It doesn't seem right that we elect you again," she told the council, "and then you bring in this topic again. It almost feels like a betrayal."

A mother of a 4- and 16-year-old told the council that her family would have to move if a prison comes here.

"This is completely uncalled for. My children are prospering here. If you do this, no one is going to prosper. If you bring a prison here, we will leave, and so will many others," she said.

Tom Steele, a former Prescott Valley councilman who has launched a website to oppose the prison, raised a number of quality-of-life concerns and urged the council to "think long and hard" before approving a prison proposal.

Resident Brian Mulcahey agreed. "I think we can do better. This sounds like settling."

Brad Wiggins, senior director of site acquisition for CCA, spoke to the audience near the end of the comment period.

"A lot of what has been said tonight doesn't ring true," he said. He told the audience he would welcome an opportunity in a forum to answer each concern individually.

"This could be huge for this community," he said.

Resident and prison supporter Mary Mallory said she wants to see people continue to discuss the proposal.

"People want to work. There are pros and cons to everything, but attacking each other and badgering each other will not get the job done," she said. "We need to come together and find a solution that will put people back to work."

Residents will have several opportunities to hear more facts and express their opinions about the proposed prison in upcoming events. On Jan. 28, the economic consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack and Co. will present its study of the economic impact of the prison on the community to the Prescott Valley council in its study session at 5:30 p.m. in the Civic Center council chambers.

On Feb. 9 at 6 p.m., the CASA Senior Center at 9260 E. Manzanita Circle in Prescott Valley will play host to an informational forum on the prison.



Courier reporter Ken Hedler contributed to this story.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Article comment by: A bunch of bologna

No name, like yourself I am gainfully employed and continue my education regularly. But unlike you, I AM concerned about my fellow citizens who have lost jobs during this recession. Many of them already work part-time at low-level, low-paying jobs. Needless to say, that type of work does NOT pay the bills, nor does volunteering, no matter how noble the intent. You might be a member of a church that does charity work, but given the tenor of your postings I have to question your compassion for those that aren't members of your church. In other words, under-employed and unemployed members of this community.

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Article comment by: ArmyVet : Something is Fishy in PV

Regarding the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation. I recall the practice of "Block Busting" back East where certain real estate firms would use vacant houses to install undesirable tenants to force out adjoining home owners at a bargin basement prices. The real estate firms themselves would spin these houses or just be happy to take a 6% commission on each sale. The end result was a destruction of entire neighborhoods into slums. Is it possible a Pro Prison real estate firm could start a rush to sell houses ? Wouldn't it be great if the firm was even funded by the town itself? Has the background of any of the principles in the PVEDF been looked into? IF they may have come from another state where this practice was utilized?

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Stop the nonsense must be a shill for the CCA or the PVEDF. Area builders and vendors will be shut out by out of state contractors. As for breakouts, just the posibility is a constant concern. What about school lockdowns when a breakout occurs? And, by the way, we get to pay for the search and capture costs and any crimes occuring in the process. Just say NO!

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

To a bunch of bologna; not trying to put anyone down for being unemployed but I read if you are out of work take something part time, some class to give you more marketability or do volunteer work or you will not get a job. This is what the article, not me said. Employers are looking for people that have been doing something. If you're out of work good luck. It seems that some of the unemployed people that support the prison do feel the rest of us owe them something. For the record I am not a senior, I take a college class or two every year (and pay for it myself) and I have a job. I work very hard and support my church. They are in the business of helping people. Not the people of the town, it isn't our place. As Christians we do it through our church.

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: A bunch of bologna

"Neither CCA nor any other corporation is going to look twice at you." Yeah, right. All the millions of unemployed in this country will never find another job because, well, they're looking for a job. No Name, unless you provide the creditentials and contact information that shows you are indeed one of the individuals who will be making the final hiring decisions for that facility, I'm inclined to believe you post is a bunch of bologna.

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: ArmyVet

Orlik is right! Why does this town give the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation any money at all! They just seem to be agents for the Fains and other big monied developers, landowners and real estate business owners. $244,000.00 a year taken from town funds is an awful lot of money to fund an organization that is now on its second attempt to get us a prison on Fain land! What's next? we start a new foundation: "The Pro Prison Profiteers Pioneers"? maybe throw $150,000. a year at that one as a "grant" Oh but then you'd need to fatten up the Chamber of Commerce ....they only got $115,000.00 this year. I thing the prison is the tip of the iceberg. I believe we need to recall and do some serious investigation down the money trail.

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: George Orlik . I ain't got no Rolex

The editor has removed this comment because it violates the Terms of Use agreement for dCourier.com. The "Use of Service" portion states, "If you use the Service ... you agree to abide by and be bound by the following:
1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of anotherís privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but donít attack. The Daily Courier encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use."


Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: Get Your Hand Out Of My Purse

$244,000.00 a year to the Prescott valley Economic Development Foundation to keep trying to bring prisons to town, all on Fain land? Enough is enough! Cut their funding and investigate the money trail.

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: Carl Simpson

Build it and we will leave!

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

My wife and I were at the meeting. She is Chinese. She said this word does not offend anyone she knows not even her. We think you pro prison people are so outnumbered and so under informed on the truth itís sad. Your opponents have out brained you with research and facts. If someone is worried about the people the prison brings and that person had a bad experience someplace else, in America she still has the right to tell us about it. My wife and I hope your trying to turn this into a race issue is self destructing.

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

It sounds like some people figure a prison job is better than nothing considering they are unemployed. Well, if you are not working, you are not going to be hired by a corporation like CCA. They will hire employees who are moving upwards from whatever it is that they are doing. Applicants who are not doing anything are going to have to go on doing nothing. Neither CCA nor any other corporation is going to look twice at you. Regardless of whether a prison comes to town, you need to get busy working at something, and forget about someone providing you a job. Maybe then if a company comes to town looking for employees, you can be that person making his way up.

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
Article comment by: Cooler Heads: Oh but you DID say

Hey Chuck, you DID say tough luck to the gentlemen without a job. Go to the recorded council meeting on the town's website, you begin speaking at 58:06 and about 59:32 is when you say it's "tough luck" that he doesn't have a job, your words, not mine. I'm not arguing with you about the merits of the prison, I don't like the idea either, all I'm saying is to have a little more sensitivity to those without employment.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Mike

Mr. GEORGE ORLIK stuck his foot in his own mouth by stating this in his comments, "There were black people, and Hispanic people and Oriential". Wow! The word used by Mr. Orlik of, "oriental" just goes to show you how uneducated he is. The term "oriental" is a racially bias term. It is used to describe an object, not a race. The correct term is "ASIAN", not "oriental". Maybe he was thinking of oriental rugs??? The only "race card" here is Mr. Orlik's inability to articulate without using racially bias terms. This is the mindset of the the anti-prison people.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Boycott the PVEDF

The meeting was welcome as an airing out. It also identified the enemies of the people. They are the Pro Prison profiteers. Be watchful ad get to every meeting you can ..even CASA wherever the pro prison lapdogs go. If a prison, we shall need a recall on those that vote for it. It is time for a long overdue barn cleaning. ...

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Go to the recorded session...

Lora and Ken : Go to the recorded minutes of the council meeting and go through the tape and pause it when you see a Black person, a Hispanic looking person, an Oriental person etc etc. It's all there on the tape have the pause button ready. Until then you are obvious pro prison propagnadists or just plain ignorant, we await your apology.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Weed Lady of Park Ridge

"Weed Lady" here -Calm down! All I suggested is that a fair vote be conducted by someone impartial and that the ballots be counted in the presence of people from BOTH sides. Why does this frighten you pro-prison folks? Yes, I DO know a few of the town government people.

The editor has removed part of this comment because it violates the Terms of Use agreement for dCourier.com. The "Use of Service" portion states, "If you use the Service ... you agree to abide by and be bound by the following:
1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of anotherís privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but donít attack. The Daily Courier encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use."


Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

Oh embarrassed you must really think you make a difference in the world. If you are from TN are you sure you know what a raiest remark is. I thought you folks had the title on that. How come you donít do as much as Lisa does? Is there some jealousy on your part? Itís clear from what she said she was pointing out that this company/prison isnít going to hire local. You are just trying to make something out of nothing. Who are you to tell people to look in the mirror? Kooiman went way over 5 minutes and so did the guy from CCA prison. So too bad you got upset that she did too.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

Weed Lady of Park Ridge. How dare you question the honesty and integritty of our town officials! They would never fix a election. Do you even know these people? Have you ever worked with them? ... The viewpoint people especially from that gated neighborhood think Prescott Vally owes them something because they are retired and everyone should feel sorry that Prescott Vally isn't all for you retired people. How can you say our town leaders are not honest and would fix a election? They did not fix the WalMart election and they won't fix the prison one either. We need jobs - you had your job now I and others need a job to.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Reilly

Tom Steele continues to define the common ground by being on the fringe. Dogs will NOT start living with cats and life as we know won't change.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Embarrassed

Lisa, I am so glad you responded to my post, because you were the one who's comment about Hispanics disturbed me the most. You said "Eloy is 74.4% Hispanic, not that it should be a difference on the decision of a prison". So if that's not a concern of yours, why did you even mention it? It sounds like veiled racism to me. So sorry honey, I'm not the one who played the racism card. You did. And if you even bothered to read my post, you would see I have not made up my mind about the prison, because I am keeping an open mind. I think both sides are using fear as a tool. Pro-prison people are using the lack of jobs and anti prison people are using "destroying our community." Just because I don't like your tactics, doesn't mean I might not end up on your side about this prison thing. In fact, right now, I'm leaning towards no prison. Oh, and PS - very disrespectful to go over your time limit at the meeting and ignore the request to stop. You were the one acting as if you were above others. So maybe look in the mirror before you start casting your stones.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Moving Out

To Jeri Ann Kooiman, Over the years you have done good things for this community, but now I see that you are most concerned about your land and construction business. Do you think that by building a maximum security prison which will house 5000 inmates will increase your real estate sales, and fill your empty strip mall? I think not. The opposite will happen. People are going to want "OUT" of this community, including me! How dare you support this project which will be surrounded by 10 schools. A project like this belongs in the middle of the desert. Imagine signs on Fain Road that state, "Don't pick up hitchhikers". I pass these signs going to California. What a nightmare you are creating all for your financial gain....NOT.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Steele

As a person who moved here almost seven years ago, I have been happy here on most everything except the politics. The mayor and council are tools of those who fund and support a closed circle of power. Most who have had dealings with policy on growth issues or water issues are shut out. Why? Because the rancher-developer interests want to develop the land and make money. You need to help better candidates for office are elected. That will take money and work. Are you up to the task? Help the no prison movement at www.noprisoninpv.com and help yourself to a better future. You CAN make it happen.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Steele

To Mike C. I guess your mind is made up that a 5,000 inmate prison would be good for you. I will be at the meeting on the 28th and CASA's on February 9th. I suggest YOU do some investigating on all the down side of prison towns. A few greedy people who run Prescott Valley politics would make out on a temperary basis only. The rest of us will pay and be faced with a fearful future and a loss of local revenue for the town. Mike, you need to become educated. Now you are indoctornated by the local rulers and the CCA's sales litersture.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Lisa Imburgia

To embarrassed, I can understand your being embarrassed. You tried to draw a race card and it came back to hit you in the face. We are anti prison not anti color and the good thinking people of Prescott Valley know that. Sorry you think you are so much above your neighbors. I started out saying my information about the prison Town of Eloy came from the Eloy website. These are the statistics posted by Eloy and what I said. Eloy shows 74.4% Hispanic, not that it should be a difference on the decision of a prison but Eloy has not 1 but 5 huge prisons. With 31.9% of itís residents living below the state poverty level; 5 CCA prisons with as you say good jobs and 31.9% of it people living below the poverty level. With these 5 CCA prisons only 6 of the town residents have these good jobs with a pay scale of $14,183 to $29,366. If you were more open minded you would see the atrocity. We people that oppose the prison know Hispanic people want to work and they would be glad for a job with benefits. Yet Eloy is a dirt-poor town. I really think you figured if you draw a race card you could fit in with a group that doesnít seem to want you. That might have worked in Tennessee but not in Prescott Valley. The website also shows these people are living more then $14,000 a year below the state median poverty level.

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010
Article comment by: Sparky Red

So the paper doesnt print anything about this being on the aganda as Public comment segement. Amazing Fains, PVEDF, CAA all were there with T shirts and flyers! We wont get caught out on that scummy plan again!. Thanks for introducing new Chamber of Commerce members, Now we know who to further boycott...at least until the $115,000.00 "grant" (steal?) stops. Maybe when the Fat Lady Sings Uncle


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