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Wise makes a visit to Eastern Panhandle

December 21, 2000

Wise makes a visit to Eastern Panhandle

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Wise visits panhandleMARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Gov.-elect Bob Wise said during a visit here Thursday that he will suggest that a state agency in charge of funding school building projects in the state borrow another $100 million for school construction.

Wise's comments came after the state School Building Authority turned down a $20 million request to Jefferson County Schools that would have been used to build a new high school.

There has been much discussion this week about how to secure more money for school construction projects after Jefferson County was turned down for the money.

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Wise, who was touring the General Motors parts plant Thursday afternoon, said he will suggest that the School Building Authority borrow another $100 million through the sale of bonds to build more schools.

He said he talked about the idea Thursday with state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, who has suggested a number of ideas this week to get growing school districts like the ones in the Eastern Panhandle the school construction money they need.

"Clearly the need for construction and renovation is not over with," Wise said.

State finances for certain types of construction projects is tight, Wise said.

Earlier in the day at The Berkeley County Commission meeting, officials stressed the need to expand sewage service throughout the county as fast as possible.

Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart said the service needs to be expanded following the release of a water study Thursday that shows water wells in some sections of Berkeley County have more than a 60 percent chance of being contaminated with bacteria.

The report said some of the contamination may be coming from failing residential septic systems.

The Berkeley County Public Sewer Service District is in the process of expanding sewer service throughout the county. A $25 million sewer service system is currently being built in Inwood, and following that, the agency will start concentrating on a second phase around Martinsburg, which will cost about $29 million, said Larry Johnson, manager of the Martinsburg office for Chester Engineering.

Johnson said funding for the second phase, which the district is currently trying to secure, primarily must come from the state.

Wise said funding for sewer projects is tight.

A state infrastructure council had about $300 million for infrastructure projects, but now that fund has dropped to about $40 million, Wise said.

Wise visited Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties Thursday for the first time since he was elected governor.

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