State budget crisis hits Clinch Co. hard - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State budget crisis hits Clinch Co. hard

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

September 9, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - As the state budget crisis continues, a south Georgia prison will close and a state-run golf course is also on the chopping block.

Both facilities are in Clinch County.  And leaders there say closing the two will shake-up their community.

The Homerville State Prison is a 200-bed facility that employees more than 60.

Effective March of next year, this prison will close it's doors in Clinch County.

"I hate to see the place close but its an older, smaller place and I realize it's a lot more expensive to run a smaller place," says Warden William Danforth.

Inmates will be transferred to Valdosta State prison.  The jobs will be moved out of the community.

"The staff will be given the opportunity to go other places if they desire to do so.  We have a facility in Lakeland and in Waycross but most of them will go to Valdosta State Prison.  The biggest thing is they are glad to still have jobs," Danforth adds.

But the prison isn't the only facility that may shut down.  The Fargo golf course is one of the proposed state parks to be closed to save the state money.  The move would ultimately delay the opening of their brand new convention center. 

"I'm disappointed because the golf course never had the opportunity to operate at the same time as the conference center and to see what the synergy will be for the two," says Andy Stone, President of Superior Pine in Fargo.

The effect could be devastating to the community.

"I believe it will impact the people who will use the conference center and the ability to bring in small business groups and meetings.  It will impact local businesses because any revenue we have in a town of 380 are well needed!"

They hope the state reconsiders and help keep revenue and jobs in Clinch County. 

The prisoners will be transferred to the new fast track facility under construction in Valdosta.

The resolution to close the golf course will go before the office of planning and budget, then to the governor for final approval.

While the decision for the prison is final, the golf course could still be saved.  Stone says the best way to help is to contact local and state representatives.