Thursday, January 26, 2017

Schuylkill County Lawmakers Thankful for Work in Keeping SCI-Frackville Open

SCI-Frackville employees, local officials, and legislators were breathing a sigh of relief Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, the Governor and Department of Corrections announced that SCI-Frackville was not on the list of facilities set to close.

On January 6th, the Governor, along with the Department of Corrections announced that they would close or reduce population of  2 State Prisons by the end of the June 2017.

Five prisons were under consideration for closure/population reduction: SCI Mercer in Mercer County, SCI Retreat in Luzerne County and SCI Frackville in Schuylkill County, SCI Waymart in Wayne County and SCI Pittsburgh in Allegheny County.

Legislators from their respective counties had been meeting and fighting to keep their local prisons, including our own in Schuylkill County.

Just this week, Senator Argall, Representative Goodman, Representative Knowles, Representative Tobash, Frank Zukas (President, Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation), (Bill Hanley, Senior Economic Development Specialist), and Champ Holman (Supervisor, Ryan Township) pleaded SCI-Frackville's case on why it should stay open during a hearing in Harrisburg.

Schuylkill County Legislators also presented a petition with over 5,000 names to Governor Wolf asking for SCI-Frackville not to be closed.

SCI-Pittsburgh was the only facility listed that will close.

Schuylkill County Lawmakers Representatives Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill), Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill), Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Dauphin) and Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) including U.S. Representative Michael Cartwright held a press conference at 11:00am, Thursday morning, to make the announcement official.

They thanked Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel for their decision to keep SCI Frackville open and for listening to their case to keep the facility running.

“My heart goes out to the community that lost a facility, but we are very happy to learn SCI Frackville will not be closing and these 400 jobs will stay in Schuylkill County,” said Goodman. “We want to thank Governor Wolf and Secretary Wetzel for listening to us. We said from the beginning we will argue the facts on behalf of Frackville, and the facts prevailed.”

“We agree with the Department of Corrections – the facts prove that SCI Frackville is an efficient institution,” Argall said. “We believe this facility should be expanded; not eliminated. We will be very proactive on this front. In the next two weeks we will convene a series of meetings in Schuylkill County and at the Capitol with one goal in mind: further improving SCI Frackville and SCI Mahanoy so that in the future, neither local prison is on any list to be closed. What improvements can be added, what cost-savings make sense to strengthen these two institutions? These are just some of the many questions on which we will focus.”

“This is the perfect example of working together to create a good result,” Knowles said. “I am thankful for the bipartisan, fact-based team approach that was demonstrated throughout this process to fight to keep this important facility’s doors open. Thank you to my state and local colleagues who came together to do all we could to make this a positive result for our area.”

“SCI Frackville is a highly performing facility and an asset to our community,” Tobash said. “This decision represents fiscal responsibility, as well as good news for our region.”

Lawmakers also said that Representatives Kurt Masser (R-Columbia/Montour/Northumberland), Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon), and Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), as well as Congressman Matt Cartwright, the Schuylkill County Commissioners, Ryan Township supervisors, and the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation were all instrumental in making the case to keep SCI Frackville open. 

Credit was also given to Schuylkill County Municipal Authority, Frackville Area Municipal Authority, Wheelabrator Frackville, the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, and SCI Frackville Superintendent Kathy Brittain.

Legislators also celebrated with some Boilo.