WALSENBURG, Colo. - An empty prison just outside of Walsenburg is set to reopen temporarily to house hundreds of inmates, and the plan will bring dozens of jobs to Huerfano County, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
On Wednesday, the state Department of Corrections announced the Huerfano County Corrections Center will open once again and carry up to 250 inmates and hire 70 workers.
Local business owners in Walsenburg say the opening will have a positive impact on the local economy.
David Tesitor, one of those business owners, says,"It's going to bring more jobs to the county, to the city. I think families coming in need a place to stay, that's going to boost the businesses here."
The former mayor of Walsenburg and current business owner Fred Rodriguez says the county needs to capitalize on this situation.
"It's nothing but a positive impact and we should strive on that, keep working towards that," Rodriguez said. "This opportunity came to us and now we have to take advantage of it."
The facility was closed in 2010 and officials have not announced when they expect it to be up and running again. However, Tesitor does have some concerns regarding the hiring at the facility.
"Hopefully we don't get people commuting up from Pueblo or Trinidad," Tesitor said.
When the prison was open, county officials say more than half of the employees were people who lived in Pueblo. Rodriguez says the next step should be figuring out a way to keep the facility open permanently.
"Our city and county officials, and not only that, the citizens should get together to see what it would take to keep them here, to see if we can negotiate terms and conditions, something to see how we can keep them here," Rodriguez said.