CHARLESTON, W.Va. - More than 30 jobs hang in the balance as a result of transitioning the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem to an adult prison, despite assurances from the governor's office that wouldn't happen.
The state Department of Education employs 32 people at the facility right now. Spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro confirmed Monday the department has not ruled out eliminating positions.
Attorneys for the state want the facility to close and re-open as an adult prison. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office, in coordination with the divisions of Corrections and Juvenile Services, created the plan in response to a judge's order to address concerns with the facility.
When asked if the shift would result in any lost jobs, Tomblin Chief of Staff Rob Alsop said no.
"One of the most important things Gov. Tomblin said was to make sure that those employees have other opportunities and we don't talk about a job loss," Alsop said Friday. "The community does not deserve that."
Confusion and fear of the unknown led employees and local citizens alike to contact Delegate Tim Miley. The Harrison County Democrat represents the area where the facility is located.
After receiving Facebook messages and phone calls from concerned people, Miley said he reached out to the governor's office for answers.
"'Hey, I thought we were led to believe everyone would maintain their job, whether it was at this facility or another facility. Now I'm hearing that that may not be the case,' " Miley said, explaining some of the comments he heard over the weekend.
"Until that question is answered or clarified, it's creating a lot of apprehension and anxiety on the part of the educators that are at that facility."
Monday afternoon he said he had not heard from the office yet but was confident he would receive a reply soon.
Alsop specifically mentioned corrections personnel Friday, but did not discuss other employees. There are more than 150 employed by the Division of Juvenile Services at the facility, according to records provided to the Daily Mail Monday.
But the Division of Juvenile Services has discussed the future of the other employees at the facility ever since it closure became an option, said acting division director Stephanie Boyd.
"That's been a huge concern of ours throughout this whole process," Boyd said Monday in a phone interview.
No one wants anyone to lose his or her job, Bond said. There were concerns with education positions in particular before Friday's announcement though, she said.
As of Friday there were 49 juveniles still at the facility. It has close to 180 beds. Considering the shrinking population, Bond said officials from the department had considered cutting education staff before Friday.
Bond went to the facility Friday morning to break the news to the employees. She was joined by Division of Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein and other corrections personnel. Bond and Rubenstein said Monday their respective divisions were looking into how they could use education staff in the future.
"We're going to do the best to hopefully let everyone maintain employment if they so choose," Bond said.