Parkersburg possible site for youth facility

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg is one of the West Virginia cities being considered as a location for a facility to replace treatment aspects of the West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth facility.

A legal ad, which ran in Thursday’s Parkersburg News and Sentinel, said the state of West Virginia, Division of Juvenile Services is soliciting offers from parties interested in providing on a leased or owned basis, a multi-purpose building approximately 30,000 square feet, which will replace a portion of the West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth in northcentral West Virginia.

”Requirements will include a facility which closely falls under the American Corrections Association Building standards including 50-60 resident rooms, food related services, laundry services, indoor and outdoor recreation areas, classrooms and administrative offices and required staff parking,” the ad said. ”This space shall be situated within the Parkersburg, Salem, Clarksburg or Bridgeport areas.

”The building and parking lot must be ADA compliant and must meet all applicable federal, state and local codes, standards and ordinances. Prevailing wages apply to all construction in accordance with West Virginia Code.”

Stephanie Bond, the acting director for the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services, said it is looking for a facility to replace the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center in Industrial, W.Va., which is near the West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth in Salem. That facility, which was the maximum security facility for juveniles, is being repurposed for adult inmates.

”We want to try to stay in the Salem/Clarksburg area, but we are keeping our options open,” Bond said. ”If someone has a facility that we can easily convert to meet our needs in the most cost effective manner, we will look at it.”

The purpose is to have a secure facility to focus on mental health needs, she said.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said he was not aware Juvenile Services was looking for a location until he saw the ad in Thursday’s newspaper.

”They didn’t notify us, but that is not unusual,” he said. ”They are hoping a developer or someone will have a piece of property to offer.”

If a suitable location is found locally, Newell said the city would work with the groups involved to see what could be done.

Officials have said the 49 juveniles housed at the West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth are being transferred to other facilities in the state, including the J.M. “Chick” Buckbee Juvenile Center in Augusta, which will be the new maximum security facility.

As proposals for possible locations come in, officials with Division of Juvenile Services will evaluate their viability.

”If we find one that meets our needs, we will move forward on it,” Bond said.

Officials are hoping to have a facility commitment within six months.

”We need to move on this as soon as possible,” Bond said.