Federal Bureau of Prisons Awards $7.3 Million Contract for W. Va. Project

WELCH, W.Va. — The Federal Bureau of Prisons awarded a design contract for a new 1,280-bed correctional facility in McDowell County, despite resistance from the Bush administration.

Clark Design Build LLC, a Maryland firm, received the $7.3 million contract to design the proposed medium-security prison in Welch. The facility would be the centerpiece of Indian Ridge Industrial Park and would employ approximately 330 people, generating as much as $35 million annually for the local economy, according to reports.

The Bush administration wants Congress to cut the $142 million project from the Bureau of Prisons’ Buildings and Facilities program budget for the fiscal year ending in 2007. The president’s office is also calling on the bureau to drop plans for a proposed new prison in New Hampshire.

U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, along with U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and U.S. Rep Nick Rahall, is a proponent of the proposed facility, which he believes will alleviate overcrowding at other West Virginia federal facilities and create more jobs for McDowell County.

Both the Bureau of Prisons and the Justice Department intend to move forward with procuring funding for the prison project, despite the proposed budget cut.

McDowell County officials and citizens are trying to convince the Bush administration to reverse its decision to cancel the project. Officials hope that construction of the facility could generate spin-off industries, such as new motels, restaurants and convenience stores near the prison.

The bureau currently operates five prisons in West Virginia at Hazelton, Beckley, Glenville, Alderson and Morgantown. The bureau has opened 10 new federal prisons throughout the United States during the last year.

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