SUGAR GROVE, W.Va. — After Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin refused to authorize the Sugar Grove Naval Base for use as a women’s prison, the facility will close at the end of the month, earning Tomblin criticism from Pendleton County Delegate Issac Sponaugle.
“This is pure incompetence by the Governor. His unresponsive and do nothing governing style has only increased the disaster in Pendleton County. The county wanted to avoid the base going to a public auction due to the odds that the reserve bid may price all bidders out of the market,” Sponaugle said as part of a statement.
Sponaugle was particularly critical of the loss of jobs and the fact that the facility could have housed many female inmates.
“The Sugar Grove Naval Base is a 122 acre facility with 105 buildings including residential housing. The approximate value of the entire facility is in excess of $200 million dollars. The base had employed in excess of 300 people,” he said. “The DOC had planned on utilizing the base as a prison that would have housed 613 women. The prison would have employed approximately 250 people directly and provide numerous indirect employment opportunities for support services.”
The base will now go to a public auction. The General Services Administration will conduct an appraisal of the property and set a reserve bid for the property at the auction.
“The final outcome of the base is anybody’s guess right now. It’s disgraceful that the citizens of Pendleton County had a suitable outcome to this disaster only to have been hoodwinked and now forced to play a game of Russian roulette, by their own Governor. They can only hope and pray that an individual or company will have the necessary resources to purchase this beautiful facility at auction, which is very much in question at this time,” said Sponaugle.
In announcing his decision last week, Tomblin said it would be more cost effective to pour state money into remodeling the former National Guard armory in Point Pleasant for additional beds for women inmates. Tomblin promised to work with other groups interested in the Sugar Grove property.