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Federal training center dedicated

July 02, 1998

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Janice R. Lachance was impressed by what she saw Thursday at the newly completed Eastern Management Development Center.

"The last time we were here, the lobby was all mud, and rain poured through where the roof was still under construction, and Ken Lowe kept describing how it would look and I couldn't picture it," Lachance said.

"Now look at it, it's beautiful," Lachance said.

About 500 people attended the dedication ceremonies Thursday at the Shepherdstown center.

High-ranking federal officials will participate in training programs at the $20 million center. The building also is the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center for use by the public when not booked by training facility visitors.

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U.S. Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va., credited the vision of Lowe, a developer, in getting the center built in Shepherdstown.

"I'm always amazed by the people you can bring together," Wise told Lowe.

Lowe, 50, president of the Federal Group, said 95 percent of the project is done. Work still remains on part of the physical fitness complex, which includes a full-length basketball court.

The 155,000-square-foot complex on 37 acres represents the first attempt by a private hotel company to team up with a federal agency to create a permanent training facility, officials said.

"This is the kind of innovative federal-private cooperation that benefits both parties and allows government to operate in a more efficient manner that saves money for the American people," Lachance said.

The Office of Personnel Management has signed a 15-year lease to use the training center.

The center can hold four different training classes at a time with about 40 officials in each class, said Eastern Management Development Center director Tom Dausch.

By locating in Shepherdstown, federal officials are able to get away from their offices and focus on training while still being only a short drive from Washington, D.C., he said.

Most of the courses last about 11 days, he said.

The center has four large classrooms, 20 smaller classrooms, a resource center, a technology center and a business center.

Government officials will arrive beginning Sunday for a seminar for new managers and another for mid-level managers, Lachance said.

"Today we are celebrating the opening of a modern, efficient and convenient facility for training federal executives to help them create a new kind of government for the 21st century," Lachance said.

Lowe said he hopes the center and the promotional videos that will play on the in-house station will influence how federal officials think about West Virginia.

"Hopefully they'll be impressed with what they see and want to come back," Lowe said.

West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood was unable to attend the ceremonies because he was touring flood-damaged counties in southern West Virginia.

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