PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Corbett administration’s decision to close the state prison in Greensburg in just six months was made with no consultation with local elected officials.
“Were you blindsided by all this?” KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked Pa. Sen. Kim Ward at a taping of the Sunday Business Page Thursday morning.
“I was shocked,” the Greensburg Republican responded.
Ward says she received a call just hours before the public announcement.
“There’s a right way to things, and there’s a wrong to do things. This was absolutely the wrong way to do something,” the Senator added.
“We needed to see impact studies. The people deserve to know that — the people of Westmoreland County — it affects the townships, it affects so much. We deserve to know how you came to this, and is this really necessary.”
Nearly 400 jobs are at stake in Greensburg and another 500 at the Cresson State Prison.
Attorney Ronald Retsch, who represents the prison guards, says a lawsuit to stop the closing is likely.
“We haven’t ruled anything out, and we will be taking action on behalf of the Corrections Officers Association. They take this matter very seriously,” said Retsch.
“They’re concerned about the effects, and as of right now we are still trying to get answers to some of the questions,” he added. “ But you can be certain that we will be taking action.”
So far, Ward, a Republican, has not yet heard directly from Gov. Corbett.
“Yes, I’m a friend of Tom Corbett, but we disagree on this. It’s a family feud,” said Ward, “and I represent the constituents of the 39th district, not the Corbett administration.”
Ward says a State Senate hearing in Harrisburg next Tuesday will be a chance to get answers.
She’s not sure the Governor will reverse the decision, but she hopes the prison will not be shut so quickly so everyone gets more time to plan for the future.