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Berkeley County Commission sets night meeting

February 22, 2001

Berkeley County Commission sets night meeting



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Freeway safety, bar closing times and cable television programming are among the issues the Berkeley County Commission wants to discuss with the public as it prepares to hold its first-ever night meeting next week.

The Commission will hold its regular daytime meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The night meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse at King and Queen streets.

The Commission Thursday discussed the best way to keep northbound and southbound traffic separated on Interstate 81. The commissioners may write Gov. Bob Wise about possible concerns over not having barriers between the two lanes.

State highway officials have said they plan to use a median strip and shoulders to keep motorists apart. Some citizens have said barriers might be a better way to avoid accidents.

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Commissioner Robert Burkhart said Thursday that "people get close to the barriers and get jitters." He has previously said people hit barriers and bounce back into the traffic, while sliding across a median may provide a greater degree of safety.

He said Thursday that guardrails in the middle of the median strip may be a better way to go.

"A guardrail would be less expensive and perhaps safer," he said. "I would push for guardrails."

"This is so important that we should extend our hand to the community" to comment at the night meeting, said Commission President Howard Strauss.

Strauss also wants to hear from members of the public about the closing time of bars and clubs in West Virginia. He said the 3:30 a.m. closing time entices people from nearby states, where closing times are earlier. The Commissioners may urge legislation be approved by the West Virginia Legislature to change the time, he said.

"When they leave (the other states), they may not be drunk, but they have been drinking and it is dangerous," Strauss said. "I think we should involve the public, ask them if they are interested."

The county must renew its cable television franchise agreement with Adelphi Communications. The Commissioners have scheduled a daytime public hearing on the issue March 8.

Commissioner John Wright said people who can't attend that hearing should come to the night meeting if they want some say in what changes they want to see in the contract. One person already has appeared before the commissioners, urging they pay close attention to what is being offered by the cable television franchise.

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