The Division of Juvenile Services decided on Friday, March 16 to turn the West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth (WVIHY) into a correctional facility for adults.
The Department of Corrections held a town hall meeting in Salem on Wednesday to give the residents a chance to ask questions and get information.
The WVIHY is the state's current maximum security juvenile facility. Tentatively, by July 1, it will become a minimum to medium security adult prison.
"If the juveniles are transitioned to other facilities by that time then our preparation is to start moving in the adult male inmates in the first of July," said Jim Rubenstein, the WVDOC commissioner.
Rubenstein explained what the purpose of the town hall meeting was.
"To listen to the concerns of the citizens and address those. We want to be a good neighbor. We feel this is a good first step," Rubenstein said.
The residents questioned many things, but one of the main topics was safety.
"I think the issue of safety which was brought out this evening was addressed," said Bobby Samples, the mayor of Salem.
Rubenstein said safety is a top priority.
"Our mission is to run safe and secure facilities and the safety of the public, our staff and the inmates," said Rubenstein.
The facility will house up to 400 inmates, who have committed crimes like breaking and entering.
For city officials, the new Salem Correctional Center is an opportunity for economic development.
"We look forward to economic development. We discussed at a community meeting on Monday, they even discussed a hotel," said Kevin Fluharty, Salem Chamber of Commerce president.
The meeting proved to be beneficial for both the public and the DOC.
"I've talked to some of the citizens this evening, they have some thoughts and ideas, and we're going to meet further with them. We want to make them feel comfortable," Rubenstein said.
The employees at the Industrial Home will lose their jobs, but the Division of Corrections said it will help them transition into the correctional center if they are interested.
The juveniles currently at the facility will be transitioned to other facilities in the area.