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W.Va. Community College

August 25, 2000

W.Va. Community College



West Virginia's new Higher Education Interim Governing Board approved the idea of moving Shepherd's community college to Martinsburg this week, but members said they wanted more information before giving the project the final okay. Though it may seem like another needless hurdle to officials in the Panhandle, they should move as quickly as possible to give this panel all the information it needs.

Earlier this year, proponents of the move got into trouble with top state lawmakers when they pressed ahead with a plan to move the college to the Blue Ridge Outlet Center - before the newly formed education panel had a chance to review the plan and before other prospective landlords had a chance to bid on housing the college.

Now Shepherd President David Dunlop says that his group is now looking at sites in the Berkeley Plaza, the old Lowes building and at the Tanger Outlet Center near Interstate 81. Within a month, Dunlop told The Associated Press, he should be able to get proposals for space to present to the interim governing board.

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Whichever site the board approves, the idea of a community college in Martinsburg makes sense. Not only would it shift an estimated 1,500 students off the Shepherd campus, relieving crowding and opening up more parking there, but it will also make higher education more accessible to residents in the Panhandle's largest city.

So far the project has won pledges of $92,000 annually from the city council, $100,000 a year from the governor's office and a variety of gifts from private sources. However, Cathy M. Armstrong, with chairs the interim educational panel, said the legislature will take until February to decide its commitment.

That's a potential roadblock, but given that backers of the project have followed the course laid out for them by top lawmakers, we have to believe legislators will keep their part of the bargain, and fund this vital project.

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