Letcher County federal prison project to continue despite proposed budget cuts

Published: Mar. 21, 2017 at 12:07 AM EDT
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President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal, includes a significant cut to federal prison construction.

The proposal aims to save almost a billion dollars in federal prison construction spending.

Letcher County officials said they were worried when they saw that there would be cuts for new federal prison construction because of the planned prison in Roxana.

However, they also said there is no need to worry at this point in time and the prison project will continue as planned.

"They reassured us that this was on task, that it wouldn't affect the prison site," said Letcher County Judge Executive, Jim Ward.

According to Ward, the $444 million needed for the prison, has already been set aside and should stay there.

"Hopefully where that money has already been set aside for this, that will keep us on track," said Ward.

Elwood Cornett has worked closely on the project for several years. He said the construction phase should soon begin.

"There might be a possibility that some things could happen before 2017 is out," said Cornett, the Co-Chair for the Letcher County Planning Commission. "But I think that 2018 might be a better estimate of when they will really start moving dirt."

Leaders said it's a relief to know that the project is still moving forward.

"You know with our economy, having 400 federal jobs here is a big plus for this county and this region," said Ward.

Ward also said there could be more than 1,000 construction jobs during the building process.

Congressman Hal Rogers released the following statement last week after questions were raised due to President Trump's budget proposal.

“The President’s ‘skinny' budget proposal does not include a direct cut to the Letcher County Prison project. However, like other programs and agencies that have been proposed for reduction or elimination, I will work to protect funding for critical services, such as LIHEAP, and economic development opportunities as Congress continues the appropriations process for the rest of 2017 and fiscal year 2018. As of right now, the Letcher County Prison is still on schedule and the record of decision is expected to be finalized later this year.” — U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers