Madison, Boone County, WV - The view from a helicopter is breathtaking - 12-thousand acres of flat land in Southern West Virginia, on reclaimed Hobet mining property. Former Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's plan was to transform it into a regional industrial park. The state National Guard could also use some of the land for military training, as we reported in November.
"We've got decades of experience training and conducting missions overseas, and now we can train our own soldiers on their own equipment, instead of spending tens of thousands of taxpayers dollars to go out of state," said Lt. Col. Todd Harrell, West Virginia National Guard, on November 4. 2017.
But the hilltop site has yet to attract one industrial tenant. And a 100-million dollar four-lane highway leading to it from Corridor G, has now been scaled back to $30 million dollars in current road improvements. State lawmakers are concerned.
"But I don't want it to be military training only, and not the better economic development or manufacturing jobs. So, I want it to be both, not either or," said State Sen. Ron Stollings, (D) Boone.
Many in the community hoped the so-called Rock Creek Development on the Hobet land would help boost the local economy. It was devastated by the downturn in the coal industry.
"We owe it to the folks down here that have been hit the hardest economically, to find out what those answers are and try to get us on a path to make Southern West Virginia more viable," said Del. Rodney Miller, (D) Boone.
Late in the day the Governor's office issued a press release saying industrial jobs, as well as military jobs were still being pursued.
"Lawmakers who represent this area and other stake-holders now want a sit-down meeting with Governor Justice to find out what if any changes to the Hobet Mining property project are going to be permanent," said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.
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