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Sheriff's departure stalls Dwight prison revival

SPRINGFIELD — A plan to use a part of the now-closed Dwight Correctional Center to house county jail inmates is a question mark right now.

Livingston County Board Chairman Marty Fannin said Monday the departure of Sheriff Martin Meredith has put an end to talks aimed at transforming the former all-female prison into a potentially profit-making overflow jail for the county.

Sheriff Meredith, the chief cheerleader for resurrecting at least a part of the facility, announced last week he was stepping down Oct. 1 to pursue other opportunities.
Meredith is under investigation and could face official misconduct charges.

He had been leading talks with the state to use one of the newer cellblocks on Dwight's 100-acre campus to house prisoners from other counties as a way to earn extra money for the county.

As many as 56 additional jobs could be created under the proposal. Before it was closed, the prison employed more than 350 workers.

The Livingston County Board has 60 days to weigh in on who will serve out the remainder of Meredith's term, which runs through January 2015. Meredith has said he'll step down October 1st.

Even before Meredith announced his departure, a number of potential candidates were lining up to challenge him in the 2014 election. Among them are former Sheriff Marvin Rutledge, former Fairbury Police Chief Jack Wiser and Mark Scott, an officer with the Dwight Police Department.

94.1 FM, WGFA