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Martinsburg High School students run City Hall

March 07, 2001

Martinsburg High School students run City Hall



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Student Government DayMARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It's not tough being a member of the Martinsburg City Council.

Just hand over all controversial matters to a committee or to the city manager.

At least that's the way it appeared for a while at City Hall Tuesday afternoon as Martinsburg High School students sat in chairs normally occupied by city council members and took up a variety of issues.

From potholes to traffic congestion to paying for more fire service, the young council members found it hard to reach agreement on tough issues.

The mock council impasse frustrated some high school members of the audience, who wanted action.

"I want some answers," said student Amanda Hamood. "Everything keeps getting pushed to him," Hamood said of Councilman Greg Wachtel, impersonating City Manager Mark Baldwin for the exercise.

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In his role as mayor, Wachtel's nephew, Jonathan Wachtel, deftly tossed hot potatoes to others.

The students, who were participating in Martinsburg High School's Student Government Day, got a brief instruction in city government in the morning before getting their real education wearing the council members' shoes in the afternoon.

Baldwin and some of the real-life council members watched in amusement as the students grappled with the daily realities the council faces. Some took part in educating the budding politicians, standing with demands before the mock council.

Baldwin told the student members he was a citizen living on North Queen Street, and demanded to know what they were going to do about the traffic congestion.

"How long do we have to live with this?" he asked in mock indignation, perhaps echoing a refrain he has heard many times in his job.

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