Kewaunee County eyes new prison proposal

KEWAUNEE CO., Wis. (WBAY) - A bill that would replace the Green Bay Correctional Institution was handed over to the Joint Finance Committee Wednesday, as local officials in Kewaunee County are already making a case to build a new facility in their county.

The bill being circulated by Representative Dave Steffen includes plans for a new, privately-built correctional facility that would be leased back to the state.

The proposal says the state would sell the Green Bay prison and solicit bids for the privately built facility, either in Brown County—or an adjacent county—like Kewaunee.

Representative Steffen mentioned a potential site near Highway 54 between Green Bay and Luxemburg—since Luxemburg already accesses some of Green Bay's current infrastructure, including the city's sewerage system.

Members of the Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors are studying the idea of building a new state prison in their county. The board met and discussed the idea Tuesday night, and decided to move forward and let the state know they are interested.

The prison could be good for their economy because it would pay property taxes.
Officials say they have been looking for solutions as their economy continues to suffer-- following the closure of the Kewaunee Power Station. "Obviously there's a tax advantage for property tax and employment. We have lost the Kewaunee Power Plant, and the employment that came with it-- and also some of the other manufacturing industries in the county are either declining or closing,” said Bob Weidner, Kewaunee County Board Chairman.

Weidner said, "It would help the county government, other local governments, and our school districts. So I intend to stay very close to the issue and to explore it with the help of our county board committees and also our other local government representatives."

Although getting rid of the current facility would open up a prime area for taxable commerce on the Fox River, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach's office says it is too soon for Brown County to take a stance on moving the prison-- saying it is a regional issue that needs more discussion.

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to discuss the bill sometime in the future.