BOONE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia National Guard has made the decision to end its training operations at the former Hobet Mine in Boone County.
Over the last four years, the National Guard has been utilizing a portion of the land for military training and agreed there was room for other economic opportunities.
Two years ago, it was promised that re-development of the old mine would boost the county and surrounding areas’ economies… post-coal.
The original plan was to turn the 12,000 acres into a multi-purpose industrial park. To date, officials say it never happened.
Sen. Ron Stollings (D-Boone) said, “Boone County budget went from about 22 million dollars, about three or four years ago… to five million dollars, so whatever is going on is not working. We’re barely keeping our courthouse doors open.”
According to Maj. Gen. James Hoyer with the National Guard, the decision to pull out training from Hobet Mine was because of a conflict between county officials and future training exercises.
“We’ll move forward and we’ll continue to do what we can to help the folks of Boone County going forward, but it appears that with the economic development authority, the work at Boone County and the Hobet just doesn’t make sense anymore,” said Hoyer.
Boone County economic developers say that accusation is a lie.
Boone County Economic Development Chair, Eddie Hendricks said, “one of the statements that were made was that our economic development [team] didn’t want to work with them out there. That’s not a true statement, we would love to work with them, coexist with them and we can coexist with them, but at some point, you have to have a dialogue and we haven’t had a dialogue with them for probably four years.”
The National Guard will be moving their efforts away from Hobet Mine within the coming months to new location in West Virginia yet to be announced.