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Martinsburg site seems ideal for a new community college

March 08, 2000

After the Martinsburg City Council announced that it had reached agreement with Shepherd College to open a community college within the city limits, two area representatives to the West Virginia legislature say it's too soon to talk about any specific site.

But even though state Sen. John Unger calls such talk premature, we commend the city council for embracing a plan that would not only help with workforce development of city industries, but also fill a 200,000 square-foot-building.

The state senate's version of the bill passed on Friday and the House version is now being considered by the House Education Committee. The version likely to win approval would allow the four-year institutions that operate associated community colleges to govern them through their existing boards of directors.

The consensus version of the bill will also call for the formation of a new community college that will link programs from several institutions across the state.

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On Saturday the city council passed a resolution to form a partnership with Shepherd to bring a new community college to Martinsburg. But though the meeting was attended by two Shepherd College officials, the college issued a statement on Monday saying it was "kind of premature" to talk about sites.

Maybe so, but you can't blame city officials for trying. A new junior college in the city would be within easy reach of hundreds who need additional education to move up in the business world. And the 227,000 square-foot Blue Ridge Outlet Center, with 900 parking spaces and two cafeterias, would seem to be tailor-made for the facility.

Does it make sense to acquire land in another area and incur the expense of new construction? That's always an option for the future, but at least for now, the outlet building seems like the best option to get the new college up and running in the least amount of time.

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