State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson announced Tuesday about 8 p.m. that Kasich had decided that the Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility (ORV) in Franklin Furnace will close Sept. 10 as scheduled.
The Department of Youth Services announced March 16 the state would be closing the facility to cut costs. Protests began immediately, arguing that ORV is the newest and best-equipped facility in the department. Johnson joined that opposition, speaking at a rally in Franklin Furnace, then beginning a dialogue with Kasich, which resulted in meetings to discuss the closing.
Johnson was waiting to hear back from Kasich on Tuesday evening, hoping he had changed his mind. It didn’t happen.
“Gov. Kasich has made his decision. It is not what we had wanted to hear,” Johnson said. “I am disappointed and heartbroken for the employees and families impacted. I still do not feel that ORV should be closed. However, I will now focus my efforts on ensuring the facility is used for some other purpose that will continue to provide jobs for our area.”
Kasich’s decision came after two meetings were held to discuss the ORV closure on Monday. An initial session was conducted with members of the governor’s staff and the DYS leadership. Johnson, Scioto County Commission President Skip Riffe, Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs, Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship, and several ORV employees attended the first meeting.
A second meeting with Kasich followed with Johnson and ORV employees Daryl Wynn and Joel Patrick in attendance to oppose the closing. Also in attendance were Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Gary Mohr and DYS Director Harvey Reed.
Johnson thanked the ORV employees for what he called “an excellent job advocating for the facility to remain open.
“No one could have presented their case more effectively,” Johnson said. “Their words were compelling because ORV is the best facility in the DYS inventory and they know it. Ohio lost a great resource today.”
David Pigman, superintendent of ORV, also spoke of the dedication of the employees at ORV.
“I am very proud of our employees. These are hard-working people who have held out hope, and I am extremely proud of their support and efforts,” Pigman said.
There had been information from the DYS at the outset of the announcement that workers could move to other facilities within the department.
Pigman said about 44 mid-level management and non-bargaining unit as well as some bargaining unit employees have found positions and have moved on.
“I appreciate the other facilities who have been kind enough not to fill positions and to hold them for our employees when their time is finished here,” Pigman said.
Pigman said in the years he has been at the facility he has grown close to the employees he sees every day.
“We have a tremendous workforce here, and we have been trying to find jobs for as many as possible, and that is what I will use my energy to do until I’m out the door,” Pigman said. “I have been giving employees time off with pay to apply for jobs, and Workforce Development has come in to help because we got a grant.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.