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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times editorial: City leaders thinking big with potential prison project

  • The issue: Leavenworth city officials have wisely continued lobbying federal officials for money to build a new federal prison.

    Our view: City leaders should be commended for visiting with lawmakers about a $350 million project that has the potential to not only be a game changer for the community, but also add hundreds of jobs and serve as an economic engine.
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      Comment
  • There's an economic stimulus package, potentially at least, out there for the city of Leavenworth and Leavenworth County.
    That package: a new, $350 million federal prison that could add up to 400 jobs.
    Granted, the odds of this project, which has been under consideration for several years but has failed to be given the funding green light, may seem long at this time.
    However, it was with encouragement the Leavenworth Times reported in Thursday's edition that Leavenworth Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger and City Manager Scott Miller recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby Kansas Congressional lawmakers to move the project forward.
    "And they did hear us, and they understand the importance of it," Preisinger said of federal officials about the prison project.
    Our city leaders didn't leave the nation's capitol with a check, but Preisinger's words are encouraging in that maybe there's hope for the project coming to realization someday.
    The newspaper also commends our city officials for making the lobbying efforts for the new prison.
    Again, while the odds may appear long, let's dream for a moment about what such a project could add to the city, and county as a whole.
    The new prison would be located near the existing U.S. Penitentiary and has been at the top of the new facilities list for the Federal Bureau of Prisons for years now. In addition to the multimillion dollar price tag and the influx of new jobs, the prison would add 1,400 beds.
    The Times story also reported that such a project would be the largest in the Kansas City metropolitan area since the Sprint headquarters complex was built in Overland Park.
    The economic benefits of the new prison project are simply too many to calculate.
    A $350 million construction infusion into the economy is sure to reach local construction companies and contractors.
    Up to 400 new jobs are certain to bring new residents and families into the area, putting more dollars into the local residential and commercial industries, and more children into area schools.
    Is a new prison the sexiest project? Does it come with the same allure as, say, the development of the Kansas Speedway and The Legends shopping district years ago in Wyandotte County?
    Probably not.
    But, the Lansing and Leavenworth communities have long traditions on prisons, and while another facility may not be trendy, it would most certainly be extremely helpful in these economic times, when the flow of dollars seems to be at a standstill.
    Too often the view of local government boils down to minor issues, like slight mill levy adjustments, or code enforcement, or ordinance amendments. All those things are fine and good and necessary.
    But, voters also want their leaders thinking big, thinking beyond the day-to-day mundane, and in this case, the Leavenworth Times contends Leavenworth leaders have done exactly that.
    Page 2 of 2 - They've looked at a game changer, and are pushing for it.
    Let's keep our fingers crossed the federal officials they lobbied in D.C. have our same interests at heart and the same fight for those dollars to get back to the state that elected them.

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