West Virginia Army National Guard to establish primary mobility training center for the military at Rock Creek
CHARLESTON, WV - Gov. Jim Justice announced today that through a joint effort of the Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation and the West Virginia Army National Guard, a plan has been outlined to start immediate economic activity at the former Hobet mine site in Boone County.
Beginning in January, the WVARNG will be utilizing a portion of the property for a training facility for all branches of the U.S. military.
“We’re going to get started out there next month, we have a wonderful chance to bring in millions of dollars in investments from military contractors and we are preserving all possibilities for future industrial uses at Rock Creek,” said Gov. Justice.
WVANG Adjutant General James Hoyer said the opportunities are “all what was originally proposed for” at the site by the National Guard but the need dictates that movement be made now.
“Designating Hobet as a primary mobility training site is on the table and starting right after the first of the year we intend on doing that,” Gen. Hoyer said. “There has also been interest expressed from a couple of Defense service contractors and manufacturers to do training, testing and evaluation there.”
Most of the initial training would be teaching driving techniques in various military vehicles on a variety of terrains that currently exist or would be constructed.
“Former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had a vision to develop this former Mountaintop Mine site and we believe that this new approach for military applications will allow us to move forward and that it will certainly promote and put the infrastructure in place that lets us get to the work of creating new jobs and business for West Virginia,” Gov. Justice added.
Original plans had called for a $100 million four lane road into the site, however, use of the existing haul road with $30 million in improvements will adequately serve the current access needs, Gov. Justice said.
“Investing $30 million is significant and will allow us to achieve what we need there for the near term,” Gov. Justice said. “When we get to the point that additional work has to take place then we’ll address it. But this will more than make the location accessible and ready.”
DOT Secretary Tom Smith said the upgrades include an improved connection to the site at U.S. 119, a bridge to cross the Little Coal River, and pavement and slope work.
“Ultimately, we are going to save a lot of money,” Smith noted.
Commerce Secretary H. Wood Thrasher said his office “will keep pursuing” development at Rock Creek as has been planned since its inception.
“We are going to continue to work to make sure it is utilized to its highest and best use,” Thrasher said.