The fight to keep the Southwestern Virginia Training Center in Hillsville open is now over, but one Carroll County Supervisor is still battling to make sure the facility will be of use to the county.
Virginia reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in August of 2012 to close four of the state’s five training centers, including the Hillsville facility, to move residents to other smaller homes or facilities. Under the agreement, the Southwestern Virginia Training Center in Hillsville was scheduled to be closed by June 30, 2018. Now that the deadline for closure has passed and residents have been moved to other facilities, Carroll County Supervisor Dr. Tom Littrell hopes something can be done to at least keep the facility and surrounding campus in operation.
“We have passed the deadline for closure of the Southwestern Virginia Training Center. There is some staffing still left there, but we have lost several hundred jobs and a really upscale facility,” Littrell said during the board’s July 9 meeting. “We need to find a plan B and a way to resource that property. I hope we can find some guidance.”
Littrell said he doesn’t personally have any specific ideas of what he or the county would like to see happen with the large Hillsville property. After all, the training center belongs to the state and it will be up to the state what is ultimately done with the property. Regardless, he hopes a use can be found to keep it a vital part of Carroll County.
“It is up to the state of Virginia what they end up doing to the property so we really kind of have to wait to see what their plan is. My understanding is they are going to use the administrative offices for a while with the training center business and then I think what normally happens is they surplus the property and basically put up for sale,” Littrell said. “I am not sure the county wants it because I don’t know if we can afford it but we would certainly like to see somebody get in there that can utilize it.”
Carroll County’s Pipers Gap District representative, Littrell said he has been trying to get in contact with Delegate Jeff Campbell to see if he knows what might happen with the property and if there is a timeline.
“Just like any economic development project that we have, we have to be aware that potentially could be available for something and try to get somebody in there,” Littrell said.
A drug rehab facility or elder care facility are among the ideas Littrell said he has heard tossed about as possibilities for the Southwestern Virginia Training Center in the past. Ultimately, most any business would be welcome.
“We would like to get it back on the tax rolls and also to try to recover some of the employment losses we have had because of the closure of it,” Littrell said.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN