James B. Hunt, Jr., Governor
Theodis Beck, Secretary
Patty McQuillan, Director of Public Information (919) 733-4926

Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institution Dedicated

With the sun shining and the majestic North Carolina mountains rising in the background, hundreds of state and local dignitaries and DOC employees gathered Oct. 14 to dedicate the new medium security Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institution.

"We’re just amazed at the turnout here today," said Bill Baker, Assistant Superintendent of Custody and Operations at the facility.

Officials from the surrounding counties were among the dignitaries in attendence, including Sen. John Garwood from Wilkes County and Rep. Charles Buchanan from Mitchell County. Secretary Theodis Beck, former Secretary Mack Jarvis, and Division of Prisons Director James French were among the DOC officials present.

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DOC Secretary Theodis Beck and Administrator Marcus Hughes discuss the new prison cells.

"This is a great day for the Division of Prisons. It is also a great day for Avery and Mitchell Counties as we three become partners in this endeavor," French said.

Nestled just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Spruce Pine, the $28 million facility will bring more than 340 new jobs to the area with a base pay of about $20,000 for most of those employees with an annual payroll budget of $9.7 million a year. It will also bring an annual operating budget of $14 million to the local communities surrounding it, said Administrator Marcus Hughes.

The prison sits on 100 acres of land on the border of Avery and Mitchell Counties. It replaces the Watauga, Yancey and Avery prisons, which were all closed.

The facility has three 208-bed units, which are set up dormitory style, a 40-cell segregation unit, and a central administration building. The first inmates are expected to arrive in November.

"This facility will also further Gov. Hunt’s goal of putting every able-bodied inmate to work," Beck said during his keynote address. "Here at Avery-Mitchell, 96 inmates will be working on road squads outside the prison, while inside they will be cooking and cleaning. We want to provide other jobs that help teach a good work ethic. Mayland Community College will teach GED, English as a second language, horticulture, heating and air conditioning repair, computer information systems, commercial cleaning and maintenance."

Since Gov. Hunt’s special session on crime, 15 prisons have been built across the state costing more than $600 million.

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