N.C. Youth Center Closing Due to Budget Crisis
(01/21/2011)

SWANNANOA, N.C. — Officials announced this week they will be closing Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center and Woodson Wilderness Challenge program to cut costs.

The youth development center will likely sit vacant for at least a year once it closes in March. The closure will make additional room for a women’s prison that also sits on the property.

But a state budget crisis means the Department of Corrections won’t be able to move into the space until the start of fiscal year 2012-13 at the earliest, said DOC spokeswoman Pam Walker.

The original plan was to increase the prison population to 450 women from its current 270 inmates and renovate several buildings to use as classrooms, as well as to provide medical and dental care for the increased population, Walker said.

The plan also called for the youth development center to move to a new facility, but the Department of Juvenile Justice lacks the money to fund construction.

The wilderness program is being discontinued because of declining utilization rates and high costs.

The facility has treated thousands of juvenile offenders in Buncombe County for 50 years. At its peak it housed nearly 300 children.

Most of the children stayed at the facility for one year on average and performed volunteer work in the community during that time.

The 48 juveniles currently housed at the center will be transferred to other youth development centers in the state.

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