Montgomery mayor thrilled for area with academy included in state budget

MONTGOMERY, W.Va. — Mayor Greg Ingram believes the real winners are the kids with a second Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy making it into the budget passed by the state legislature last week. Ingram said the academy, which trains and mentors at-risk youth in a military environment, is scheduled to open in October in Montgomery at the former WVU Tech campus. “The whole region should be happy that the legislature and the governor saw fit to open another facility for our kids,” Ingram told MetroNews. “Not everyone has a good family life, not everyone comes from good roots. That doesn’t mean they are bad people, bad kids, They are good kids, they just need some development and direction.” More than 100 ‘cadets’ are expected to be a part of the first class in a 22-week program run by the West Virginia National Guard with residence on campus. The program houses cadets on campus with a one-year post-residential follow-up program. It teaches eight core components of academic excellence including physical fitness, leadership/followership, responsibility, citizenship, job skills, service to the community, health and hygiene, and life coping skills. As one cadet class graduates, another one will begin. Graduates of the Montgomery campus will be able to earn their high school diploma from their home high school through the pathways option approved by the West Virginia Department of Education, a release said. Ingram said he hopes graduates will stick around the area for jobs and more schooling. He said the academy will bring jobs with it and the area looks to build more around it. “I’m looking forward to and anticipating within the next three to four years, about 300 to 400 new jobs here in Montgomery. Some of them are small businesses, the challenge academy itself is going to bring 60 to 80 jobs,” he said. The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy was established in 1993 at Camp Dawson in Kingwood and boasts more than 4,000 graduates. During Gov. Jim Justice’s state of the state address, he included $3.3 Million in his budget proposal for what will be known as the Mountaineer Challenge Academy Southern Campus.

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