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W.Va. legislators view Panhandle's growth

November 16, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - After completing three days of Legislative interim meetings in the Eastern Panhandle on Tuesday, several lawmakers from across the state said they believe there will be increased awareness in Charleston about the growing pains being felt in the area.

Del. John Pino, D-Fayette, said he was impressed by the presentations that local officials made to lawmakers to illustrate the problems they are facing.

During a special meeting Monday night in Shepherdstown, local business leaders and public school officials told lawmakers about the huge task they face in building enough schools for the area.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon told lawmakers that $93 million will be needed to build enough schools in the county to prepare the county for the next ten years.

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By 2015, Berkeley County is expected to surpass Kanawaha County as the biggest school system in the state, Arvon told lawmakers.

"I feel like I have a good grasp of the problems you have," said Pino.

"I think this area is so much different from the rest of West Virginia," said Del. Roy Givens, D-Brooke.

Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, told lawmakers during Monday's meeting that he would be looking for their support to find new sources of revenue for school construction in the Panhandle.

Givens said he believes lawmakers are ready to go to work on the issues.

"That's one of the reasons we came up here, to see what the needs are," Givens said as he and several other lawmakers toured the Charles Town Races Tuesday evening.

Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, agreed that legislators seemed concerned about issues facing the Eastern Panhandle. He said the interim meetings were also valuable because they allowed local officials to see the Legislature in action.

Legislative interim meetings have been held in other parts of the state, but lawmakers said they have never seen so many residents attend the meetings like the ones this week.

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