Bill to keep training center open fails this year

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Del. Anne B. Crockett-Stark promises to keep trying.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

RICHMOND — A bill to spare the Southwestern Virginia Training Center from closing has been laid aside by the General Assembly, according to the legislation’s patron.
Del. Anne B. Crockett-Stark (R-Wytheville) reported that House Bill 1669 has been tabled, apparently for the duration of this year’s legislative session.
She shared with The Gazette a copy of the speech she made on the topic of keeping the training center in Carroll County open in the face of a plan supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell to close four state facilities, reduce a fifth to 75 beds and shift residents to community living situations.
“Let me say up front that I understand and respect that we must, as legislators, use the peoples’ money wisely — we must get a ‘bang for our buck,’ as the saying goes,” she told her fellow representatives. “However, we each sit here and acknowledge that we have certain medically fragile individuals who cannot speak or care for themselves.”
For these people, it’s up to the legislators to be not just efficient, but humane, Crockett-Stark said.
The Southwestern Virginia Training Center is a “surrogate family and community” for many of those who live there.
Some of the residents remain dependent on the staff for personal hygiene, feeding, dressing and other everyday needs, the delegate said. The training center “has the equipment that homes don’t necessarily have and our facility includes residential and habilitative medical and recreational services.”
The training center in Carroll serves 17 counties and four cities and employs 470 workers.
“Do we possibly save money or do we save lives?” Crockett-Stark said. “I urge you to consider distance, economic turmoil and medically fragile citizens who need us to rethink and plan over the next few years.”
After the bill was tabled, Crockett-Stark promised to keep trying to convince state officials to change course.
“I will amend [the bill] next year to include all training centers,” she said. “We are not defeated yet. I will keep trying.”
Crockett-Stark’s bill is not the only legislation introduced this year dealing with the training centers. She notes there’s still a budget amendment with the same goal as her bill.


SWVTC parent and activist Wanda Robinson heard from those present that Crockett-Stark's speech was "powerful and passionate."

"But, what it did accomplish was the education and data sharing of Legislators who have been misled by flawed information," Robinson told The Gazette in an e-mail.  "Because of Crockett-Stark, much attention has been focused on the plight of the residents of SWVTC.  The Parent Advocacy and Advisory Council of Southwest Virginia are very honored to have been involved with this legislation."