Controversy is swirling around a bill that aims to consolidate the West Virginia Division of Corrections, the Regional Jail Authority, and Juvenile services.
Delegates in Marshall County fear that if passed as is, the bill could spell economic disaster for the county.
Delegate Joe Canestraro says there are some benefits to consolidation, but there are parts of House Bill 4338 and identical Senate Bill 369 that could harm the tourism industry in Marshall County.
“There are a lot of good parts of the bill, but there is that one part that deals with the penitentiary here in Moundsville that is just economically devastating,” said Canestraro.
Canestraro says that part of the bill would terminate any leases that currently exist with the Division of Corrections.
Right now, the Moundsville Economic Development Council leases the Moundsville Penitentiary and hosts tours, the Dungeon of Horrors, the Princess Tea and more.
If that lease were to be terminated, all of those events would cease to exist, and the city could lose up to $1.9 million in annual revenue, among other issues.
“It also affects our hotels, our restaurants, our shops because when people come to Moundsville to tour the Penitentiary or do a ghost tour, they’re spending money in our restaurants and shops as well,” said Canestraro.
The bills are currently in committee.
Canestraro says they plan to fight to have this part of the bill removed.
“I’ve been contacted by Senator Maroney. I know that Delegate Ferro has been contacted by Senator Clements. I know that they’re working to try to get that amended out of the bill or at least get a committee substitute in place that takes it out of the bill,” said Canestraro.
There will likely be developments on these bills in the coming week.
Senator Maroney was originally a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 369 but has since requested to be removed.