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WPA Properties Sold to Become Local Community Corrections Center

Old WPA Building (2)

The Prowers County Commissioners have sold the East Maple Street properties to open the way for a community oriented corrections facility which will be owned and operated by Doug Carrigan. The decision followed several weeks of negotiations for the property at 800 East Maple Street, consisting of five, one-story sandstone buildings situated on 3.55 acres which border the railroad tracks to the south.  They were built during the Great Depression in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project which helped create jobs for thousands of unemployed people across the country.

Old WPA Building (3)

The idea of a small scale community corrections facility was presented to the community during  a City Council work session in early March. Carrigan, who has operated a similar facility for years in Sterling, Colorado, outlined his plans for a smaller operation for the WPA site which would hold approximately 30 clients and employ about 12 persons.

Carrigan also presented his plans to the Prowers County Commissioners that month as well as his interest in the WPA buildings.  The structures have sat idle for several decades and have shown some wear and tear on the sandstone surfaces after almost 80 years since they were built. He also addressed the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission during a public hearing on a zoning change needed to move his plans forward.  The ordinance was passed and later approved by the city council on April 27th which altered the zoning from R-3 to I-1.

Although several nearby residents expressed concerns about the nature of the business, Carrigan explained that his operation is administered under guidelines established by the State Department of Justice, the whereabouts of the clients are monitored daily and all are subject to random drug tests. As a condition of their placement in the facility, Carrigan said each person must find employment, make restitution to their victims, establish a banking account and undergo counseling to change their lifestyle patterns for the better.   He added that the clients are from southeast Colorado to begin with, so even if they were in a general probation program, they would still be residents of the area.  The city council, county commissioners and members of Prowers County Development Incorporated believe the corrections facility will add to the local job market, both by placing clients in local jobs and job creation at the center and should also begin to generate property taxes for the facility which has been idle for several decades.

By Russ Baldwin

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