People in southernmost Illinois continue to be frustrated by the continuing uncertainty over the supermax prison at Tamms. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he wants to close it to save money; he is also offering to sell it to the federal government.

With or without Tamms, the area that includes Cairo is in sorry shape, and has been for a long time. “We have a lot of that as it is with the other entities that are shutting down and laying off around the area; Missouri and Illinois, especially,” says Marsha Cook, who works at the Cairo Employment and Training Center.

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“If people were not involved, it would not be that big of a decision,” says Monte Russell, chairman of the board in neighboring Pulaski County. “When you balance budgets and try to live within your means, there’s times you have to make tough decisions. I try to make decisions that will have the least impact as far as the people we are dealing with.”

Lawmakers included money in the state budget to keep the Tamms prison open, but the governor used a reduction veto and will close the facility.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/