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Look ahead for West Virginia

2000: A

December 16, 1999



~ 2000 ~

Moving into the Future



- 2000: A look ahead for Washington County

- 2000: A look ahead for Hagerstown

- 2000: A look ahead for Franklin County

- 2000: A look ahead for West Virginia

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An estimated 500 new jobs are expected to become available in Berkeley County in 2000 when four new companies complete construction of plants, according to an economic development official. They are:

* Orgill Inc., a Tennessee hardware manufacturer, is building a plant on Interstate 81 near the Tablers Station Road exit. It will create about 200 jobs

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* Ecolab, a St. Paul, Minn., firm that makes antibacterial products, is being built on W.Va. 9 near the Quebecor Printing plant in Baker Heights. It will employ 100 people.

* Tiger Aerospace, a Taiwanese airplane manufacturer with a plant at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport south of Martinsburg. It will initially employ 100 people.

* Sino Swearingen, a business jet manufacturer, also at the airport with an initial hiring of 100 people.

Bob Crawford, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority, said the authority also will work to make sure existing employers have what they need to remain profitable.

A chief concern among local employers in 1999 was having enough skilled workers to fill jobs.

"With the tight labor market, this is a real concern," Crawford said.

The development authority plans to examine several ways to increase the number of skilled workers, such as job fairs to bring employers and prospective workers together, Crawford said.

In Morgan County, Lippert Components, which makes frames for recreational vehicles, is expected to complete a 15,000-square-foot expansion of its facility in the U.S. 522 Industrial Park, said County Administrator Bill Clark.

The expansion is expected to add 10 jobs at the business, which currently employs about 25, Clark said.

Transportation




Completion of several new highway projects designed to accommodate the Panhandle's growing population are also expected in 2000.

A new five-lane bridge that will carry King Street traffic over Interstate 81 will get under way in 2000 and should be completed by the end of the year, said Randy Epperly, deputy state highway engineer for the state Division of Highways.

The $4.5 million project is designed to ease traffic congestion in the King Street and Foxcroft Avenue areas.

A $4 million improvement to the W.Va. 9 interchange at I-81 should be completed by this year, as well as the widening of I-81 from four lanes to six lanes from King Street to the W.Va. 9 interchange, Epperly said.

Widening the interstate while funneling traffic through the construction zone has gone smoothly, Epperly said.

"I haven't heard of any problems, and the contractors are pretty well on schedule," he said.

Panhandle residents could see dirt being turned for the first phase of widening W.Va. 9 to four lanes in the spring, Epperly said.

The first section to be widened will be from Martinsburg to Charles Town, Epperly said. All the required historical and environment studies should be completed by February, at which time the state will begin buying homes and property needed to make way for the new highway, Epperly said.

The Martinsburg-to-Charles Town segment of the road could be divided into seven or eight construction projects, each of which could take 18 months to finish, Epperly said.

Schools




Berkeley County plans to begin building a new intermediate school at an undetermined site in the northern part of Martinsburg, said Superintendent of Schools Manny Arvon.

Arvon said he will also request funding from the state School Building Authority to build another intermediate school in the west end of town.

Arvon recently announced plans to purchase 16 portable classrooms to create more space in schools this year.

"Simply, we're out of room," Arvon said.

In Jefferson County, construction is expected to begin on a new ninth-grade complex. Although a site has not been selected for the center, it should be ready for students by 2001, said Jefferson County Schools spokeswoman Liz Thompson.

The complex, which school officials have estimated will cost about $7.4 million, is designed to free up space in elementary schools for all-day kindergarten. Part of the restructuring also includes moving from a junior high to a middle school concept.

The Jefferson County Board of Education is also likely to start discussing going to voters for approval of a school construction bond, Thompson said. The board needs about $35 million to renovate Jefferson High School, build a career technology center and a new high school, Thompson said.

The board asked the state School Building Authority to pitch in $6 million for the improvements, but the state agency turned down the request.

Growth




Jefferson County will start work on revising its comprehensive plan, the document that determines how development should generally occur in the county.

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