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Shepherd to finish move by 2001, official says

October 09, 2000

Shepherd to finish move by 2001, official says



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Shepherd College still plans to move its community and technical college here, even though it didn't get all the money it wanted for the move from a state board last week. Classes could start at the beginning of next year, an official said.

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The Higher Education Policy Commission told college officials they could request only $300,00 for the $450,000 they wanted from the governor and legislature to help make the move into the abandoned Blue Ridge Outlet Center possible within the next two years.

College President Dave Dunlop said officials believe they can start the move while working to get the additional money.

"We honestly don't know where that money will materialize," Dunlop said. "But we've come this far. And it's a relatively small amount of money." The college will need about $3.1 million over five years to move from Shepherdstown. But the $450,000 was critical as seed money to start the move, Dunlop said.

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Dunlop said the college might go to the business community for help. It has a $200,000 contract with General Motors and the United Auto Workers to provide training. Similar contracts might be expanded or others sought to help make up the difference, he said.

The policy commission has prohibited the college from seeking additional legislative money that it believes is needed for other programs. But that doesn't mean legislators from the Eastern Panhandle can't pursue it.

House Del. Vicki Douglas, D-Berkeley, said she "absolutely" will seek whatever money is needed.

"I think if you can get it started, it can begin to bear its own weight," she said. She also hopes Shepherd can find money from businesses, rather than from the state budget.

"This whole community college effort is a positive reaction to what the whole business community has been asking for the past five years and most ardently the past two years," she said.

She and state Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, said they will try to get the legislature to fill any gaps.

"You're not talking about a tremendous amount of dollars, as far as higher education is concerned," Snyder said. But he also would like to see efforts made to raise non-government money.

"There's a number of ways to do this without taking it out of the general budget," Snyder said. "I believe the business community could give some funds for this. I'd like to see it all funded (privately) rather than taking it from the state budget."

The college still must put the finishing touches on the move. The lease details have not been concluded. Dunlop said he didn't want to comment about negotiations and whether the college was seeking a lower lease agreement because of the financial situation.

The plan also needs the approval of the chancellor of the state Interim Governing Board and the blessing of the state agency that approves all leases.

But Dunlop said he remains confident the move will occur soon.

"You'd rather have the money than not," he said. "But if you're going to move forward, you have to focus on the positive things that happen. And we expect to see students at the community college in Martinsburg the first week of January."

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