Family fun and jobs for southern Illinois

Family fun and jobs for southern Illinois
By: Arnold Wyrick

PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. - A proposed land swap between the State of Illinois and a Glen Carbon company could bring thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to Perry County. 
The deal with the Toney Watkins Company and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources involves 2,000 acres of Pyramid State Park, in exchange for an equal parcel of ground adjacent to the park.  And the company is touting their state-of-the-art theme park as a place for families and businesses.
Along with the project comes an estimated 2,500 jobs.
"I think it would be great for this area.  It seems like if you're not a doctor or a coal miner you just can't make it around here. I've got family members who drive to East Saint Louis everyday for work.  So I think it would offer real good opportunities for people," said Jason Gresham of Pinckneyville.
The proposal would transfer thousands of acres of abandoned strip mining land into a golf course and motor-bike track for kids.  And offer similar attractions as what Branson, Missouri has to offer.
"Bringing something like that in, that's going to draw more people to the area, you know on vacations or just for the weekends.  And that's going to help our income for our town," said Susan Radford of Cutler, Illinois.
And for some of the young people living near the proposed site, it's very exciting news for them about the opportunities.
"I'm just graduated and now I'm looking for a job.  And I can't find one anywhere.  So that would be great to have around here," said Brittny Morrow of Pinckneyville.
Calls to the Toney Watkins Company went unanswered on Tuesday.  A House panel reviewed the proposed piece of legislation that would authorize the transfer of land to the company for their proposed theme park.