GREENSBURG (KDKA) — For hundreds of local families, the New Year is beginning with the fear of what’s to come.
Four-hundred employees of the State Prison in Greensburg have been told the facility is closing. And some aren’t buying the state’s promise that they’ll be taken care of.
Dozens of corrections officers and their families gathered at the Hoss’s in Greensburg on Tuesday for their monthly meeting. At the forefront of conversation, the closing of SCI Greensburg.
“It’s upsetting, it’s angering,” said Joy Burkholder, the wife of a SCI Greensburg employee. “It’s unbelievable that this would happen.”
The decision to close the prison was announced last week. It’s a cost cutting move that, along with the closing of SCI Cresson in Cambria County, is slated to save state taxpayers $23 million.
The Department of Corrections initially said it would offer all employees at the closing institutions jobs at institutions within 50 miles, but it’s becoming clear that the numbers don’t add up.
“Unless the state agrees to allow more people into these local institutions – like they did when they closed SCI Pittsburgh and Waynesburg – yes, there’s not going to be openings for them,” said Lance Burkholder, of the State Corrections Officers Association.
Many of the job offers will likely be at SCI Benner, which is a new $200 million facility in Centre County.
“I know I’m gonna fight to make sure every one of them is offered a job somewhere,” said Ray Pinto, of the State Corrections Officers Association. ”I just wish it could be a little Closer to home than what I think it’s gonna be.”
People in the community have already begun circulating a petition calling for the prison to remain open.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are planning a hearing where the secretary of the Department of Corrections will testify.
“We are still pushing to get answers and see if there is any way to stop this closing,” said Pa. Sen. Kim Ward.
The prison in Greensburg and also SCI Cresson are slated to close by June 30.