Northumberland County purchases land to replace burned-out prison

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 14, 2015 4:17 AM

Photo by Associated Press

A fire ripped through the Northumberland County prison in January of this year.

(Sunbury) -- Construction on a new prison in Northumberland County could start in less than a year after a fire tore through its prison that dated to the late 1800's.

The county is purchasing 22 acres along the Susquehanna River in Sunbury for $2 million.

Northumberland County Commissioners recently approved the decision by a 2-1 vote, with Richard Schoch arguing they're moving too quickly.

He says they should consider renovations to the current structure.

But Commissioner Vinny Clausi says the county has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month since the fire to house inmates in state prisons, and needed to move quickly.

He says he's convinced a new building is the best long-term solution too.

"Everything's going to be a drag. You cannot sit and wait and suck your thumb. You've gotta work it. You gotta do what's right for the taxpayers," he says.

Clausi says the central location will help save on inmate transportation costs.

The county plans to use a bond to pay for the $30 - $35 million project, though Clausi says he's asking Governor Tom Wolf to provide some state funds.

"I think he's going to reach out to us to help us, I just have that good feeling. He's a good person, he's a good man, and he understands the necessity to the county.

"Northumberland County, they don't have a lot of jobs. We're a depressed area and I'm sure the governor will understand," says Clausi.

The governor's office didn't immediately respond to requests on the potential for state money.

Construction could start as early as December.

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