Still no answers on future of Phelps - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Still no answers on future of Phelps

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It has been one month after the unexpected closure of a state prison in Beauregard Parish and there are still no concrete answers as to what happens next.

Shortly after Phelps closed, items were transported from the facility to others in the state. However, in mid-November, the Department of Corrections halted those transfers. Now, with the land and property occupying dead space, city and business leaders continue their efforts of getting people back to work, including the possibility of privatization.

George Swift, executive director of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Chamber, said there has been one company that has toured the facility and is interested.

Swift said the chamber is working with that company and toward other possibilities.

"We're very concerned about the job loss in DeQuincy and the impact on that community, so we're going to do all we can to help get something in that facility," Swift said.

In addition, Phelps' land deed mentions, in part, that if the land is not used as a way to mass employ the people of DeQuincy, the land should be reverted back to its original owners.

Swift recognizes that the deed is a big part of the future of Phelps, but said those legal issues will come in time.

"We're more interested in finding somebody that can use the facility and we'll try to work out the legal aspects through the state at that time," Swift said.

DeQuincy Mayor Lawrence Henagan said U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has also offered resources in finding a use for the facility to bring jobs back to the area.

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