Last Modified: Monday, September 17, 2012 12:05 PM
One word was repeated Saturday by state and local officials discussing the news that C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy will close: “devastating.”
“It really has all of us upset, the whole town, it’s going to make a big impact on our town,” said Lillian Karr, head of the DeQuincy Chamber of Commerce.
Because the prison sits off La. 27 just north of DeQuincy, the city and its inhabitants are expected to be impacted the most, but the repercussions will travel throughout Southwest Louisiana, DeQuincy Mayor Lawrence Henagan said.
Henagan estimated that 85-90 percent of the prison’s 269 employees live in “DeQuincy or the surrounding area.”
“Anybody in DeQuincy that wants to go to work, they go to work out at Phelps,” said Kenny Naquin, a 26-year employee at the prison. “There’s Temple-Inland and there’s Phelps. Anybody who lives around here who has worked around here has at one point in time worked at Phelps.”
Those lost jobs were of major concern to Henagan and Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Sandy Treme, who represents the area where the prison is located.
“I’m not going to sit back and do nothing,” a fired-up Henagan said. “I’m working on options to see what we can do to get these people some jobs and continue their livelihood. I’m not going to sit in the corner and cry. When you make me mad, I’m going to come out and try to win and that’s where I’m at right now.
“It’s not just my little corner of the world, it’s a big part of Southwest Louisiana that’s being devastated,” Treme said.
State Rep. Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek, said the closing makes her believe that “nobody really cares about the rural area.”
“We don’t have a lot of employment in this part of the state, but that was a good job,” Hill said. “Losing 300 jobs, that’s like losing 1,500 jobs in New Orleans.”
DeQuincy regularly employs a nine-man crew of prisoners who do jobs such as lawn work and cleanup, Henagan said. He said other local municipalities also employ Phelps work crews.
That leaves a nine-person hole in the DeQuincy workforce that Henagan said he’s not able to replace.
Then, there’s the traffic that the prison brings in to the area.
“Not only does Phelps and the inmates help us a whole lot, but economically, people that had inmates, loved ones in prisons, would come here to see those people, they were buying gasoline and food,” Karr said. “We’re going to miss that, it’s going to have a big impact.”
Others discussed the prison’s local purchases of water, natural gas and other items that will no longer occur.
“DeQuincy will survive, businesses will survive,” Henagan said. “The thing I’m worried about is people losing their jobs.”
Posted By: danny kendel On: 9/19/2012
i do not understand it?, how can gov. Jendal do this??, he claims D.O.C. decided to close Phelps....I think not!! the Gov. has the final say on this!! and he is putting it off on D.O C., he is saying phelps is inefficient? this is not true! my brother in law has worked there for many years he has told me everytime they have had an audit from baton rouge they have always passed with flying colors!! ...that compound is always very clean and under control, there is another reason Jendal is wanting it closed but he is avoiding telling anyone what it is. all those people are going to lose their jobs...with no warning, right before the holidays just....hey we are taking your jobs your going to lose your vehicles, your homes, your kids will not have a christmas and we are destoying your livelyhoods!! all this before the holidays...oh yeah and...have a niice day!...on top of that the surrounding communities are going to suffer!!....since jendal has been in office we have witnessed the destruction of Louisiana...when is it going to stop!!...how much more damage is going to do to the state,how many more jobs is he going cost in the next 3 years left in his term??...this is sickening!!!, my heart goes out to all these poor people that will lose their jobs and to the surrounding businesses and communities that will suffer because of this needless closing of a well needed facility!!, i am soo sorry to say i voted for jendal....i see now i made a terrible mistake!!...all we can hope for is that there is enough public out cry to make him keep it open!!....they say a small group of employees will be transfered to angola....do they even know how far angola is from dequincy??...its not just a little 25 min drive...its an over 3 hour drive one way!! all i can say is i hope the Gov has a change of heart on this issue otherwise this will have devastating effects on these employees and the surrounding communities!...God Bless all these involved!!