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Attendees at Nov. 1 rally against the prison

Hammock on prison: "Citizens won't spend a dime"

By Michael Butler

Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock said work could begin next spring on a new mega prison on Rifle Range just outside of the city limits. While the city's plan is to provide utility services to the facility, Hammock said it will not be at a cost to the citizens.

"I have negotiated and the citizens of Tallassee will not spend a dime on the new infrastructure."

The estimated $600 million facility will have a capacity for approximatley 3,900 inmates and will employ about 700.

"The enhancements that we have to provide to them - gas lines, sewer lines, water lines, a 500,000 gallon water tank - I'm not going to let our taxpayers take on that burden. I'm going to do my job and pursue grants, but whatever has to come out of pocket either they're going to pay for it or we're going to go to bond market and get that money that's going to be tacked on to their utility bills."

Hammock said CoreCivic would prefer to pay those costs up front.

"There is going to be over $30 million in payroll injected right outside our city limits."

As for those who are on the outskirts of the city's borders, Hammock said he understood their concern.

"I'm compassionate for the people that live out there. Change is hard. When you live outside of the city limits, anything goes. This thing was coming no matter what. I'm going to try and make lemonade out of lemons."

Hammock also responded to the negative comments he has received recently on social media.

"The attacks are ridiculous saying, 'He's building a lake house. His wife drives a Mercedes. Kickbacks.' Me and my wife work seven days a week. For people to viciously attack us is wrong. I'm a blue-collar mayor in a blue-collar town. I don't take crap off of anybody.

"I grew up an overweight kid from East Tallassee. Everything I've had to get on my own. I learned from a young age riding a school bus. You let people pick on you and become a punching bag. If you let them do it, they're going to keep on doing it. I'm sorry if it offends somebody, but it's ingrained in my DNA. That's who I am and I'm not changing."