Progress on GEO construction project coming along
BALDWIN — With upgrades to the village of Baldwin's wastewater system in full swing to accommodate an influx of prisoners at North Lake Correctional Facility in case GEO, Inc. reopens the prison, Village President Jim Truxton said good progress is being made.
"The GEO construction project is moving along nicely," Truxton said during Monday's council meeting. "We had a conference call with GEO, and they have been concerned upgrades won't be complete by Dec. 31, but they still have not been awarded a contract from the feds for prisoners. From what we learned, it takes GEO eight to 12 weeks to hire and train staff and start receiving prisoners.
"Right now, with the water system upgrades already in place, we could accommodate 1,000 prisoners. By the middle of December, when we get a third reactor online, we could ramp up 340 to 400 prisoners, conservatively. By the end of February, with new head works and everything 100 percent operational, we could accommodate 1,850 prisoners and 300 to 400 staff."
Truxton said grit is being cleared out of the headwaters, which was wearing and tearing on the plant, to allow for more efficient operations.
Dave Porteous, legal counsel for the village, is happy with the progress.
"The amount of hours Jim puts in week after week on this project have been extraordinary. Everything is going really smooth," he said. "GEO has been a good partner, being receptive on a timely basis and providing funds for the project. They were concerned about timeliness because it was never known when prisoners would come, but they needed comfort level so they could be ready for them. GEO added engineer input on their own dime. Prisoners may not arrive as soon as we thought, and progress has been slowed a little from the storms, but the extra time benefits us all."
In other business:
• Council members approved authorizing the AT&T tower lease amendment, which is in the process of being drafted.
• The board approved requests for use of the skate park for the Take Back the Skate Park event for next summer; Wenger Pavilion for the Santa Parade; Hollister Park for a winter community bonfire; and they will ask for clarification to the Lake County Chamber of Commerce in regards to a request for village use during next year's Blessing of the Bikes.
• Baldwin Fire Chief Jeremy Anderson said he winterized the brush trucks. He also mentioned a street light was taken out Saturday morning in the village near the road commission building.
• The council authorized the sale of surplus equipment and vehicles owned by the village.
• The council authorized Phil's County Line to replace and install two tractor tires for $683.88.
• Council members approved $31,755 to purchase a submergable pump for the M-37 lift station from Kennedy Industries in Rockford.