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Back to the drawing board

Thursday, Oct 27, 2016

* From a Decatur Herald & Review editorial which eventually gets around to arguing for “state subsidies” for nuclear power plants, including the one down the road in Clinton

The chips are starting to fall in anticipation of the planned shutdown of the Exelon nuclear power plant in Clinton and the first significant victim is the DeWitt County jail.

As reported last week by Kevin Barlow, jail inmates have been transferred to the Piatt County jail in Monticello as part of a new arrangement designed to save DeWitt County money. […]

In addition to preparing for a substantial loss of tax dollars if the Exelon plant closes, [Dewitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner] said the county also is making a lot less money on its longtime program of housing federal inmates.

When Shofner took over in 2010, the DeWitt County jail took in more than $1 million in revenue for housing federal prisoners and had a staff of 16. Today, that revenue is about $180,000 per year and the staff has dropped to 12 people.

The current DeWitt County jail opened in April 1994 at a cost of about $7 million. It was designed to house 60 prisoners. Last week, the jail reported only 19 prisoners on site.

Um, OK. It looks to me like the county made a huge investment on a jail that was far too big for its actual needs. And handing the immensely profitable Exelon giant taxpayer subsidy checks in order to keep that jail open is not an argument that anyone else will buy.

Try again.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:39 am:

    Only the Decatur paper could turn a reduction in crime (fewer inmates) into a bad thing.

    Right after demanding subsidies for the nuke plant, are they going to demand more crimes be committed so the jail can again be profitable?

  2. - X-prof - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:55 am:

    @Michelle: Heh. That only works if they demand more federal crimes –– not something the state has much control over. Or maybe they could lobby the feds to send us the remaining gitmo prisoners; that’s where the really bigly profits lie! Oh wait, the GOP opposes that idea. Between a rock and a hard place.

  3. - Anon221 - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:15 am:

    Rich, Spot On! “Um, OK. It looks to me like the county made a huge investment on a jail that was far too big for its actual needs.”

    The jail concept was former Sheriff Roger Massey’s attempt at “earning” money for the county from housing (mainly) prisoner overflow from Cook County.

    Here’s the original story available from The Pantagraph from 2000 (you have to access it yourself)-
    And then 2 years later… (wrong county in the headline- happens quite a lot)
    downstate-jails-make-ends-meet-cook-county-inmates -

  4. - Gruntled University Employee - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:16 am:

    Back in a former life, (in the 1990’s) I was able to get in on a lot of that County Jail expansion work. Down State counties were housing Chicago overflow as well as Federal prisoners. It was very lucrative for both the county jails and the contractors that built them.

  5. - DeWitt's End - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:21 am:

    If the Clinton plant closes the countie’s next largest source of revenue is the landfill. Sen. Rose and Champaign based environmental groups have been on a crusade to close that for years. If they succeed it could be really rough times ahead for DeWitt county.

  6. - Earnest - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:29 am:

    Rough times for that area…below is from the DeWitt County Human Resource Center, the social service agency “shaken out” through the Rauner/Ragdono approach to human services.



    I wanted to give everyone an update on the status of our programs and services in DeWitt County. There seem to be lots of rumors circulating in the community that our programs and services at our West location (mental health, substance abuse, psychiatry) will be reopening.

    Unfortunately that is not the case. The Stopgap money that we received is being used to cover last year’s backlog of expenses. While we are talking with the state of IL and other providers about offering services in DeWitt County, if offered, these services will be with another provider.

    In the meantime clients should seek care from their primary care provider or call our office for additional referral resources. We are in the process of preparing our clinical records for storage with a secure medical records storage company. When we have more information as to where these files will be stored we will provide that information to our clients.

    As for our East/Encore programs for adults with developmental disabilities we hope these services will continue without further disruption to clients. As with our West programs we are in ongoing talks with other providers about taking over these services. It is our hope that these programs and Encore will remain operational during the transition process to a new provider.

    Thank you to the entire DeWitt County community for the support and the kind words you have provided cnd continue to provide on a daily basis.

    Lynn Scoville
    Executive Director

  7. - Anon221 - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:30 am:

    DeWitt’s End- ” Sen. Rose and Champaign based environmental groups have been on a crusade to close that for years.”

    Partially true. Only against certain items- PCBs, remember those???

    Coal ash pond cleanup waste is the next “stuff” PDC wants to try and get authorized for. This will be coming into the landfill by the rail car full. Yep, great way to make money. (snark, if you didn’t catch it. And don’t tell me it has to go somewhere. One the banks of Salt Fork is not one of them.)

  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:31 am:

    The editorial is ludicrous. Ratepayers have to submit to a $770 million a year shakedown from Exelon — which had a net income of $2.2 billion last year — because DeWitt County isn’t making a profit on its jail?

    Did the edit board, collectively, hit their heads on something hard before writing and printing that?

  9. - NoGifts - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:39 am:

    Not all bad. Maybe they could convert it into something that was better for the community?

  10. - Earnest - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:44 am:

    A little OT, but I reference back to our discussions of ideas to help the state’s economy and job environment. My thought had been an emphasis on local agriculture and family rather than corporate farms. More of a national policy than state, but a good, though perhaps a little partisan, article:

  11. - Anon221 - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:58 am:

    Earnest- Thank you for posting Lynn’s letter. I emailed Rich last week with this news. She was a great lady, and worked endlessly for those who needed a voice.

  12. - iwillquoteyouonthis - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 12:02 pm:

    Exelon is a hot topic in Clinton, and I see why. It’s not just any old “jobs” that are going to leave. We’re talking about nuclear chemists, physicists, electrical engineers, machinists…*high paying jobs*, in addition to the many low and semi-skilled jobs that a facility of that size requires. But Exelon’s refusal to consider any contractual mechanism that protects taxpayers and rate-payers kills the deal. Clinton should expect that too…it’s not like the several previous owners of the power plant were keen on paying their share.

  13. - BEST Dave - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 2:14 pm:

    “It looks to me like the county made a huge investment on a jail that was far too big for its actual needs.”

    Funny you should put it that way, because that is a main part of the problem with the nuclear plants. In 2015, Illinois generated 40% more electricity than we need. Demand is shrinking (almost 4% since 2011). So like the jail, we have more plants than we need to serve the state.

    Charitably (because they really did it for the guaranteed profits), ComEd/Exelon and Illinois Power built these plants when they anticipated continual load growth in the state. Because of efficiency gains and fewer manufacturers, that load is shrinking, not growing.

  14. - Ggeo - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 3:56 pm:

    “In 2015, Illinois generated 40% more electricity than we need”

    And yet your funders still want to build new fossil fuel power plants in Illinois. Imagine that.

  15. - NoGifts - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 6:56 pm:

    It goes to other states.

  16. - BEST Dave - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:51 pm:

    “And yet your funders still want to build new fossil fuel power plants in Illinois. Imagine that.” Ummm, no. But thanks for playing.

  17. - NorthsideNoMore - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:15 am:

    The local economy with be crushed. Close the plant and see what happens to the price of electricity in the next 2-3 years. You cant take that amount of energy out of the market with out a ripple effect. As John Maynard said its supply and demand.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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