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Governor and Lincoln mayor agree on new location for new Nebraska State Penitentiary

Posted at 7:13 PM, Aug 30, 2023

LINCOLN, Neb (KMTV) — Just a little under two weeks ago, Governor Pillen and Corrections Director Rob Jeffrys unveiled the long awaited location of Nebraska’s new prison.

It wasn’t surprising that Pillen announced a new prison location but the location he chose was certainly surprising for many Lincoln officials.

“I was surprised, it was the first that I had heard about it. I was disappointed and frustrated at the lack of transparency, the lack of community process and folks in Northeast Lincoln like myself we re completely shocked,” said James Michael Bowers, a member of the Lincoln City Council.

Bowers wasn’t the only one blindsided by the decision.

Lincoln Mayor Leiron Gaylor-Baird immediately reached out to the Governor to see if they could find another place to put the prison.

“Of the two Lincoln sites, this location that we are announcing today is the preferred alternative for both parties. Its a better alternative for our community and we thank the governor and his team for their willingness to pivot,” said Gaylor-Baird.

After some back and forth the Mayor and Governor’s office agreed on a land swap, Lincoln gets the ground the state purchased for the new prison and the state gets roughly 300 acres east of 70th street north of the interstate.

Gaylor-Baird made it clear to the governor that Lincoln didn’t want the prison at all but she says she is satisfied that an agreement could be made on an alternate location.

Other officials in Lincoln hope the experience will encourage better communication from the Governor in his future dealing with local governments.

I think one of the important takeaways and hard lessons learned from this process is it is always better to have more voices at the table,” said Senator Danielle Conrad, who represents north Lincoln in District 46.

City Council President Bowers says he will continue to watch the construction of the new prison closely to ensure Lincoln’s voice isn’t silenced by the Governor’s priorities.

“I will continue to bust down any doors I have to, to make sure Northeast Lincoln voices are heard and that Northeast Lincoln voices are at the table when discussions happen,” said Bowers.

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