Southwestern Virginia Training Center prepares to close

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CARROLL CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Efforts to save the Southwestern Virginia Training Center in Carroll County from closing are failing in the General Assembly.

Three bills from two delegates haven't passed committees this session that would have kept the facility open.

I'm devastated by it," said Delegate Jeff Campbell, a Republican representing Carroll, Wythe, and parts of Smyth Counties. "It's been a four year nightmare."

A place that's been home to hundreds of people with disabilities for 40 years will close June 30th as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Delegate Jeff Campbell has fought to slow or stop the process.

"I think it's a terrible plan, I think it's very shortsighted, I think it's calculated to lead to potentially harming some of our most vulnerable citizens," Campbell said.

Most residents and staff have moved away or found other jobs, knowing this date was coming soon. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services reports only 55 people currently live at the training center. They'll move into new group and sponsored homes in the area.

"The reality is some of the individuals are not going to be able to be served in the group homes and we just don't have the service providers in southwest right now," Campbell said.

There are also 254 full time employees that remain. We're told the training center is helping people find jobs. Many have started working for area homes now housing those former residents.

Once the training center closes, the property is expected to become state surplus and will be put up for sale by the state agency. But Campbell has one final idea to utilize the space.

Instead of selling the property to the highest bidder, Campbell says during the next General Assembly sessions he will encourage the agency to allow private service providers to operate here.

The Carroll County administrator tells WDBJ7 the county is also working on a Plan B.