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Legislature to hold session in Shepherdstown

June 22, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The West Virginia Legislature is bringing the Capitol to the Eastern Panhandle for a three-day joint session in November, state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, said Tuesday.

The 134-member state legislature will meet at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va., for an interim session Nov. 14-16 to study several issues. Among them are drunken driving penalties, taxation, farmland preservation and ideas for safe and productive schools, Unger said.

The session will include field trips to other parts of the Eastern Panhandle, he said.

"This gets legislators from all over the state to the Panhandle so they can see the growth issues we have and the challenges of having Maryland and Virginia nearby," Unger said.

The visit by the state's 100 delegates, 34 senators and about 150 additional staff members also gives Eastern Panhandle residents a chance to express their concerns and ideas to the people who make the laws, Unger said.

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"It's a two-way street that really opens up communication," he said.

The legislature wrapped up a three-day interim session Tuesday in Beckley, W.Va.. and has a tradition of rotating meetings outside the state Capitol in Charleston to other parts of the state.

"We're really pleased that they're coming here," Shepherdstown Mayor Vincent Parmesano said. "The dollars and cents is nice, but it's not as important as the long term benefits."

Lawmakers who don't often visit the Eastern Panhandle will have an up-close view of Shepherd College, university extension services and the area's highway system, Parmesano said.

The last time the Eastern Panhandle hosted an interim legislative session was in May 1996 at Coolfont Resort in Berkeley Springs, Unger said.

"We wouldn't have even been capable of handling something like this a few years ago," Parmesano said.

The opening of the Clarion last July has afforded Shepherdstown enough rooms to host a gathering as sizable as the legislative session, Parmesano said.

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