Wednesday, May 25, 2011 — Bent County Commissioner Bill Long and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff, Roxane White, led a delegation to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with federal officials about repurposing Fort Lyon Prison in Las Animas.
The Hickenlooper Administration committed earlier this year to helping find a new use for the prison after including the prison closure in cuts need to balance the FY 2011-12 budget. Closing the prison in March 2012 will save the state approximately $6 million annually.
“We continue to work with Bent County officials and agencies in Washington to help find a new purpose for the Fort Lyon Prison facility,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s a wonderful campus and could be put to great use by a host of different federal agencies or other businesses.”
Long and White traveled to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and met today with representatives of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Interior. The group also met with Colorado’s congressional delegation to discuss Fort Lyon Prison and finding options to maintain viability for the facility.
“The Bent County Development Foundation and Gov. Hickenlooper’s Office have put together a strong advocacy team for the repurposing of Fort Lyon,” Long said. “This will likely be a long process, but we are very hopeful we will be successful.”
The trip to Washington, D.C., this week comes on the heels of numerous meetings between federal, state and local officials about Fort Lyon Prison.
White, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, first met with Las Animas residents two days after the prison closure was announced Feb. 15. Hickenlooper also met with residents and community leaders after touring the prison on March 2. He was joined by several Cabinet members from the Office of Economic Development and International Trade and Department of Local Affairs, both of whom have continued to stay involved in the process.
A working group from the Governor’s Office and Bent County has met nearly a dozen times in recent weeks to talk about next steps for Fort Lyon Prison. The group will continue to meet until a viable option is found for the facility.