House votes to put funding for Montgomery’s Mountaineer Challenge Academy back in the budget

MONTGOMERY, WV (WOAY) – Back in January, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced that a second Mountaineer Challenge Academy would be coming to Montgomery and fill some of the empty buildings of the old West Virginia Tech campus.

Last week, the money was there in the Senate’s budget but was not in the House’s.

However, on Wednesday, an amendment was passed to get it back in the bill. 

Last week, when Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram found out that the funding was not there, he said he was confused and spent his weekend writing letters, voicing his frustration about what was prioritized in the House’s budget.

“When you compare our kids to dog racing and to more judges and more court systems that are very expensive, both are expensive, I think the legislature needs to take a 2,000-foot view at what are we doing? What are we doing in the state of West Virginia?” he said.

Delegate Margaret Staggers (D-32) was also feeling that frustration, which is why she introduced an amendment alongside Del. Larry Rowe, Del. Robinson and Del. Estep-Burton   that would put the $4.8 million back on the bill for the academy. 

She says she was thrilled when it got a unanimous voice vote.

“I’m ecstatic,” Del. Staggers said. “This is what Montgomery needs. This is what the kids of our state need. This is saving kids that would otherwise be lost and bringing them back as good citizens.” 

The Mountaineer Challenge Academy, a program through the National Guard, would bring in challenged young people who desire a second chance at life and a high school education.

Mayor Ingram believes this will not only will this help fill up a deserted campus but the cadets will help fill up Montgomery, as they have to do community service and will be using the YMCA, the hospital and other local facilities. 

“I look forward to a bright future in Montgomery,” he said. “And honestly, some of it really hinges on the Mountaineer Challenge Academy.” 

The Senate budget has already passed with the funding and the House still has to pass their full budget bill before it goes to the governor.

Del. Staggers said Del. Eric Householder and Del. Eric Nelson helped with negotiations.

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.