MT & Skyline

Local lawmakers asking state to hold off on approving new youth prison


HORTONIA (WLUK) -- State lawmakers from the Fox Valley want to hold off on approving a new youth prison.

The town of Hortonia is being proposed as the site for one of the prisons that would replace the troubled Lincoln Hills facility in Irma.

But some feel the project is being rushed.

The proposed prison would be located just along Highway 15 and U.S. 45.

"I was very surprised; this kind of came out of nowhere," said State Sen. Roger Roth. "If the town of Hortonia and Hortonville and Outagamie County, if these entities say 'we don’t want this', then I absolutely don't think we should have this here."

Legislators, including Roth, wrote a letter to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee Monday asking for more time.

"I want to make sure that the Department of Corrections and the administration have sit down meetings in the town of Hortonia and in Outagamie County, where concerned citizens can voice those concerns and have those answers," Roth said.

Last month FOX 11 spoke to a resident who says he has two concerns, the economic impact and the wildlife.

"These river bottoms are very important to not only this community but thousands of people who hunt the river bottom and its an important wildlife corridor for the travel of wildlife to one area to another," explained Tim Manion, a Hortonia resident.

According to the October meeting minutes from the Juvenile Corrections Study Committee, members based some location decisions on workforce availability, amount of land and proximity to technical colleges and universities.

FOX 11 reached out to Outagamie County and the governor's office but did not hear back.

"If everyone’s minds can be put at ease and everyone can agree that this is the right place to do it, then I think that's a different story and they can certainly proceed," Roth said.

However, some residents don't think they'll change their minds.

"There’s an overwhelming disapproval of putting a prison of any kind in Hortonia," said Manion.

Town of Hortonia officials are scheduled to have a public meeting on the youth prison Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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