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With song, musician raises growth issues

June 12, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Growth in the Eastern Panhandle and how to deal with it has been discussed countless times in school board meetings, Martinsburg bypass meetings, county commission meetings and other gatherings.

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Now a West Virginia man wants to set the debates to music in the hope he will influence some people to change their tunes.

Charlie Frederick, a Berkeley Springs native who has traveled the country working in various fields and writing music, plans to offer a series of lectures this fall about the impact of global population growth.

Frederick said he will narrow his discussions to growth issues in the Eastern Panhandle.

At times, he will deliver his messages in the form of a song to drive his point home.

While some people in town are excited about the development and increased tax base that will be generated by the city of Martinsburg annexing 740 acres along Interstate 81, Frederick gets the jitters.

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He wonders what type of demands the development will place on water supplies. He questions whether people understand how much population growth the annexation will cause, as well as other spin-off effects such as increased crime.

Not that annexations cause crime, but any population growth will naturally bring more of it, Frederick said.

"If the Eastern Panhandle turns out to be the hottest spot for growth in the state, what good is it if the quality of life suffers?" Frederick said.

Frederick said he will call his free talks the "Naked Truth Seminar Series," and plans to offer them at a public place such as a school, a church or a shopping plaza.

He warmed up by giving members of the Berkeley Senior Services Center a preview of his talk last Friday morning. Playing an electric guitar and backed by Pat Hill on keyboard, Frederick played songs by Johnny Cash and the Bellamy Brothers. He mixed in a few of his life stories, and showed the old, worn blue jeans and jean jacket he wears.

He pointed out that a patch of the American flag on the jacket is upside down, which in the 1960s signified the country in distress, Frederick said.

"I still wear it that way. I feel this country is in bad shape," Frederick told about 50 people gathered at the High Street senior center.

"It sure is," responded one of the women in the audience.

Frederick was born in Berkeley Springs in 1938 and grew up in a poor family in Berkeley County. He credits his football coaches in school with showing him how to succeed in life.

He became interested in helping people with substance abuse and taught treatment methods at many colleges around the country. This fall, he will work as an adjunct professor of health at Shepherd College.

He also wrote music, and his song "There's A Pill For Everything," recorded in 1976, got air play at the time.

"If you stop to think about the shape we're in and the stress we go through, it's enough to drive a man insane," Frederick sings in the song.

To deal with stress, most people "go to a little old drug store down the street. It's got a pill for everything," Frederick sings.

Frederick moved from Los Angeles to Falling Waters in 1992 so he could be closer to his children.

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