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Bills would allow sale of correctional facility

LANSING — Sen. Ed McBroom and Rep. Greg Markkanen announced new legislation that would allow the state to sell the former Ojibway Correctional Facility, which was hastily shuttered by the state Department of Corrections in 2018.

Senate Bill 1075 and House Bill 6150 would authorize a potential sale by the state Department of Management and Budget.

“The surprise closure of the Ojibway Correctional Facility was a loss to the people of Marenisco and Gogebic County,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “The impact of the prison’s closure has been felt deep and wide. In addition to the prison jobs lost, area businesses have lost out on tens of millions of dollars in economic activity through no fault of their own and families have moved away. The ripple effects of the closure are still being felt.

“We are still advocating with the state for funding that was promised to help with economic development in the area following the closure. Along those lines, it’s time for the state to sell the property to a private company that will actually work to rebuild, repurpose and reemploy hardworking U.P. residents. Let’s get this done.”

Markkanen echoed McBroom’s sentiments.

“This legislation will return the property to the tax roll as well as offer potential employment with future businesses that purchase the facility,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “We have been working with local community leaders on ideas for the site’s redevelopment and appreciate all of their efforts to that end.”

SB 1075 was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration, while HB 6150 was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

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