Prison planned near school causes concern

Thursday, April 3rd 2008, 12:33 am
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

A Lincoln County school board is in charge of making a controversial decision that involves plans to bring a prison to a small town.

City leaders in Stroud want to put a prison right in the middle of town, but the location is next to several schools. That's why the school board must step in and make a difficult decision.

Inside the Stroud council chambers is a very colorful illustration of how the city plans to grow and prosper in the next 20 years. What you don't see are plans for a private prison and the Becks want it to stay that way.

"If a person gets out, what are they going to do?" Steve Beck said.

Steve and his wife Kim don't want a prison to be built at the city's Industrial Park because it's within a mile of four schools. State law says if a private prison is that close to a campus, the city must first get the approval of the school board before proceeding with plans.

"The school board is put into a really difficult position on this project," Steve said. "I've visited with the superintendent and I asked him, ‘How does it feel to be the most powerful man in Stroud?'"

City Manager, Steve Gilbert says the city will hold a town hall meeting next week to outline the benefits of bringing such a project to Stroud, but some say it's pointless because the decision is now left up to the school board.

"As I've said to other people, we're being force-fed and they are going to hold a town hall meeting to tell us what they just ate," Kim Beck said.

Superintendent Rick McDaniel was not available for comment, but one school board member said he will vote against the plans. Also the city says if the school board does vote against the prison plans, it does have a second location in the city it will consider for the facility.