Job Seeker Hopes Willacy Co. Prison Lands Contract

Posted: Updated: Sep 13, 2017 07:35 PM

RAYMONDVILLE – A Raymondville man is hoping the Willacy County Detention Center reopens soon. He said it will help with his job search.

Gustavo Roel, 22, worked in construction business two months ago. He said its tough times when you aren't working. He said finding a job is about bringing in a paycheck and restoring his pride. 

"You wanna have a life out there and not just be a nobody. You know, you wanna have a house, car, a great life," he said.

Roel is applying for jobs through the Workforce Solutions office in Raymondville. But his search is not focused solely on construction work.

"I've been applying everywhere here in our local store we have. Just trying to get a job for now," he said.

A spokesperson for the owner of the Willacy Detention Center, Management and Training Corporation, told CHANNEL FIVE NEWS they are marketing the facility to potential tenants.

The prison was shut down in 2015 and hundreds of jobs were lost. Now, it is in the process of renovation and its 10 Kevlar tents were brought down completely.

Roel said he would like to work there.

"I'd probably be there in the kitchen, helping them. Stuff like that. Helping the inmates," he said.

Raymondville City Manager Eleazar Garcia believes good news is coming in for the local economy.

The prison facility was purchased earlier this year by MTC. The property taxes from the facility will bring in new money for the county.

"Ad valorem tax dollars is about $150,000 of additional tax revenue we have this year, more than we had last year for this one particular prison. That's about ten to eleven percent of our tax revenues," said Garcia.

Garcia said should the prison sign a contract with a tenant, it would be even better news for Roel and his job search.

"It would have a tremendous impact on our economy, not just the people getting their jobs back but also the spin-off effects where people buy products in our community," he explained.

Garcia said he and other officials in Raymondville certainly hope the prison lands a contract soon so others in their city can find work.

The Willacy County Detention Center first opened in Raymondville more than 11 years ago.

There was a major riot in the prison on February 2015. The riot ended on the 21st of that month when all of the inmates inside the facility were moved to other prisons. The prison ceased operations just days later.

The former operator of the facility, Management and Training Corporation, sealed a deal with Willacy County in March of this year to reclaim ownership of the facility.

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