Federal judge rules to keep detention center open - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Federal judge rules to keep detention center open

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The Irwin County Detention Center will remain open after a federal judge ruled in its favor The Irwin County Detention Center will remain open after a federal judge ruled in its favor
County Attorney Warren Mixon hopes CGL can take over within the next 30 days County Attorney Warren Mixon hopes CGL can take over within the next 30 days
The center went bankrupt after its last manager failed to pay property taxes The center went bankrupt after its last manager failed to pay property taxes
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Irwin County, GA (WALB) -

After a 3 year federal court battle a private detention center in Irwin County will remain open. The court's ruling saved hundreds of jobs.

The Irwin County detention center is the third largest industry in the county. County leaders say it was vital to keep the facility opened. The Nevada company that ran the center didn't pay property taxes in Ocilla and Irwin County in 2010 and 2011 and went bankrupt.

"That's when the county filed a judicial In rem tax foreclosure proceeding against the property," said Irwin County Attorney Warren Mixon.

 The county attorney fought to move the bankruptcy proceedings from Nevada to Atlanta to speed up the process.

"Ultimately an agreement was entered between a prospective buyer and the debtor. And they agreed to a 363 bankruptcy sale," said Mixon.

At a bankruptcy auction last month, Corrections Corporation of America submitted the highest bid to buy the prison for more than $13 million. That company planned to shut down the center, eliminating more than 100 jobs.

"The economic impact that would have on a county of right at 10 thousand total population with an unemployment with a little over 11 percent that'd just be devastating," said Mixon.

Carter Global Lee bid $100 thousand less, but promised to keep the facility open. This week, a federal bankruptcy judge accepted that bid, much to the relief of Irwin County leaders and workers.

"We basically saved 200 jobs," said Mixon.

"That facility has single mothers with children, single dads with children, You know bread winners. So to lose that would've pushed our unemployment rate way over 12," said Hazel McCranie President of the Ocilla Chamber of Commerce.

Mixon and McCranie say the win would not have been possible without the determination of the county commissioners and the hard work of former Governor Roy Barnes who helped argue the case in bankruptcy court.

The Irwin County Detention Center is one of the largest users in the county of natural gas and the highest in taxes bringing millions of dollars in income to the county. Irwin County has lost out on about $1.6 million in unpaid tax revenue from the center. The County Attorney hopes CGL can take over within the next 30-days and begin paying property taxes.

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