Detention Facility’s Reopening Expected to Benefit Willacy Co.

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RAYMONDVILLE - Willacy County officials said they won’t be the only ones benefiting from the prison’s new ownership.

County commissioners agreed Tuesday to give the prison’s former operator, Management and Training Corporation, full ownership of the facility.

Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said the move will bring money back to the county and the city.

The facility itself is within city limits. Now that it’s owned by a private company, Gonzales said they must pay property taxes to both the county and the city.

“We’ve been patient enough. It’s been a little over two years since the prison closure. It was even before my time,” he said.

According to Gonzales, the city took a big hit in 2015 after losing both the prison and Wal-Mart. The city lost around “$5,000 to $6,000 in water and sewer” revenue since the facility’s closure.

Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra said Raymondville’s schools will also reap benefits.

Gonzales said the amount new jobs the place’s reopening may bring to the area is something they’re looking forward to.

“We’ll have the sale tax going on because of the people going around and shopping in Raymondville,” he said.

Although Raymondville is still dealing with the financial impact from two years ago, Gonzales said he’s glad things are finally moving forward.

The facility is expected to be repaired after suffering damage from a 2015 riot. Repairs will take about four to six months.

The prison shut down after prisoners rioted over living conditions. It also led to many layoffs around the county and city.

Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said his department was impacted the most. He’s glad the facility will once again be put to use and bring money back into the county.

“Hopefully, we can start regaining some of the employees that we lost. I think the county laid off 27 employees. Four of them were from my department,” he said.

Spence added he will be keeping a close eye on how things progress with the facility. 

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