CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A U.S. Naval base scheduled for closure next year in West Virginia could end up being the home of a new state prison. State Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein gave a group of state lawmakers information Monday about the Sugar Grove base in Pendleton County.

“It could easily support a 500-bed correctional facility,” Rubenstein said. “It’s very attractive to our Correctional Industries based on some of the buildings and the actual location.”

The base closure date is currently set for Sept. 2015. U.S. senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin have been working with federal and state officials on a possible transfer of the property to the state. Commissioner Rubenstein said it’s a 122-acre facility with 105 buildings including residential housing that could be occupied by prison workers.

“Just based on the rural nature and some of our employees who would be very interested in that type of setting—we could see some folks wanting to transfer as well and to be able to have appropriate housing,” Rubenstein told lawmakers.

Preliminary plans are to have a medium to low-medium security prison at the site. Rubenstetin said the federal government wants to see the state’s plan by early next year. His agency will soon submit its plan to the governor’s office for review.

“We’re putting together what we feel will be a good plan. To have a base like this being offered—we see this as a tremendous opportunity,” according to Rubenstein.

The Sugar Grove base has served as the Navy Information Operations Command base. It has about 300 employees. Rubenstein said many of those workers have skill-sets that could be useful in the Division of Corrections.

“We see it from a division perspective as the ability of retaining individuals, not only for the needs of that facility, but for the division as a whole,” Rubenstein said.

There was serious discussion just last year about placing some state inmates in a Kentucky private prison because of overcrowding in West Virginia but Rubenstein said that’s on the back burner now with the Sugar Grove opportunity and other projects that will create more prison beds in Parkersburg, St. Marys and Moundsville.

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  • WheelingFeelin

    They simply do not have the employment base to sustain a large scale prison facility in Pendleton County. Look at Mount Olive for instance. They are approximately 45 minutes from Charleston yet they cannot fully staff that center.

    I'm surprised this article did not have a mention in the prison facility they are adding to the Moundsville area.

  • Jeff

    For profit prisons are the lowest of the low and we want to fill every inch if our state with them. Disgusting.

    • ViennaGuy

      This article talked about building a new **state** prison, not building a private prison.

  • WV Hillbilly

    I support the prison. It is a good idea and a good deal for employment of our folks who have and will leave the county. However, the best option was a Veteran's Admin. assisted living village for older Vets and a facility for our Wounded Warriors, but that fell on deaf ears with our folks in Washington. Just follow the VA and they will spend millions building a similar facility(ies) in other state(s) with more political clout. We are lost!

  • high roller

    Not sure the residents of Pendleton County turned down the resort/casino idea. I think THE resident of Greenbrier County did that for them.

  • bad

    Work at S.G. as a sailor and now retired. its the local high class that runs this county. If it doesn't fit their pocket, they don't want it. Other words, they want get a penny out of this. How many big jobs that almost came to this county but got turn down. The state park would been a great place of location. Their was a gun company wanted to come but the county comm would not cut them a deal. What happen to the gambling resort? If you ever notice how much traffic goes across the mountain so folks can get a job instead of working in their county. Just remember, election coming up.

  • anxiouseer97

    Some of the best, pristine country in the state and we're going to put prisoners there? Dumbest darn thing I've heard.

  • Stan the Man

    Hey Mountain Navy, don't forget the State Park. Now tell me, what could be nicer than a State Park. But you are right, the people who have come here to retire have fought to stop everything.

    • N

      It's not the people who retired from the Sugar Grove base who are against new business (owned by outsiders) coming into the county.

  • art bell

    i am a 100% navy vet who worked at this facility after i was a civilian. I would be very concerned about east coast security for all of us instead of. The security on the 80's was something, and now doing something like this. Me be the first two say, cut there balls offf and hang them. This is an elite system for all of us and our safety. Prison is not good,espescially in trout country and wonderful West Virginia. God Bless

    • bam

      he be right, this multibillion dollar facillity doesnt need trashed for unworthy West by God Virginian,s

  • Mountain Navy

    Myself I would like to see the base turned into a state college or a WV Military College something like VMI.

    • MIster P

      We have too many stzte colleges now.

  • Mountain Navy

    Having been stationed at Sugar Grove sad to see it go. However I live Pendleton County and the old farts want this to be a retirement community. Which is laughable. I guarantee they will fight this tooth and nail. The old farts do not want anything here that brings jobs.

    Here are some of the things they have rejected.

    Wind Mills.
    Fertilizer plant.
    That is just three off the top of my head I can think of. However there has been many more.

    • CaptainQ

      Mountain Navy, no 'old farts' in Pendleton County had a chance to officially 'reject' the Fisher Mountain Casino idea. If you'd bothered to check your facts first, you'd see that when the Fisher Mountain Casino bill appeared twice in Charleston, it had NO provisions for any county-wide vote on the matter. In other words, if the bill had passed, the casino would be a reality WITHOUT public approval of any kind, unlike all of the other counties in WV who currently have casino style gaming. Secondly, all sitting members of the Pendleton County Commission publicly SUPPORTED the casino bill the last time it was introduced at the State Capitol. Seems that all of the 'old farts' who actually RUN Pendleton County wanted the Fisher Mountain Casino to become reality.

      The only reason the Fisher Mountain Casino bill didn't make it to law each time it was presented was that time ran out before the bill made it through the committee process. Now it's probably true that a certain entity in Greenbrier County that will remain nameless had SOME influence in the bill's derailing, I wouldn't doubt that for a minute. What also may be true is that IF a county wide vote ever DID take place, any casino proposal would be defeated. Maybe THAT'S why those proponents of Fisher Mountain purposely left a public vote out of the bill each time they brought it up in Charleston.

  • PT

    Why don't we look at NOT putting half our population in prison.....that will solve the problem. We have way too many non-violent citizens in prision, which feeds the prison industrial system.

  • northforkfisher

    Good luck getting Pendleton County to go for a prison. They turned a casino, another type of prison, and anything else that might come in. We have a few haves, that control everything and they are happy with the population traveling to Harrisonburg Va.

    • CaptainQ

      northforkfisher, read my response to Mountain Navy above.

      • northforkfisher

        I live here so I know how the county will react to the prison. We had a chance for a federal prison and it was blocked.

  • nonya

    And just how is this prison to be staffed? All current prisons are VERY understaffed and people are having to work a huge amount of overtime? People can not be hired now to fill the positions - should be interesting.

  • FungoJoe

    Why not make it a high tech industrial park? You can put a prison on a reclaimed strip mine. Why let high tech infrastructure go to waste? Link it up with the I-79 high tech corridor.

  • Richard

    We should also look at closed or closing school buildings as the St. Mary's high school in Pleasants county would make a good regional jail that would help with over crowding of the regional jail system.

    • Wesley

      Good thought but with a prison three miles from the high school and a regional jail within thirty miles from the school it would be impossible to staff another facility so close

      • James

        Yes Wes I agree; besides who are you going to get to work for $ 22,584 and all the overtime you want......

        • James

          Rubenstein, nice joke; I am sure that the existing workers with "skill sets" from the Sugar Grove Base can't wait to work for DOC or RJA. Maybe you, Earl Ray, Manchin, Natalie,WV RJA CERT Commander/ Internal Affairs/ no nuts, Paul Blart, and let us not forget Terry Miller can operate a prison in Charleston. My bad; you have never don the uniform!