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Scholarship program gets a boost

January 21, 2002

Scholarship program gets a boost



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Fund-raising for the Martin Luther King Scholarship program got off to a strong start Sunday night when officials announced that Gov. Bob Wise pledged $10,000 toward the effort.

The local Martin Luther King Scholarship Committee held its annual banquet at the Holiday Inn on Foxcroft Avenue to raise money for the scholarship program.

But before the dinner started, Berkeley County Commission President Howard Strauss reported through a letter from Wise that the funding was approved.

Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, who joined Strauss in making the announcement, said local lawmakers worked together on lining up the funds.

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Unger said Rosabell Roman, one of the organizers of the banquet, was talking to him one day about all the promises that politicians make.

Unger said that was when local lawmakers decided to do something good for the scholarship fund.

"If you don't ask, you won't get it," said Roman, drawing laughs from dinnergoers.

Several other donations were announced before the banquet.

About 300 tickets were sold for the $30-a-plate banquet, said Roman.

Money raised through the banquet and donations like the one from Wise's office are used to raise money for scholarships for high school students. The scholarships are usually for $500, although some in the amount of $1,000 are given, Roman said.

The scholarships can be awarded to any student, although the committee prefers that half the money goes to minority students, Roman said.

Last year, four students received scholarships. This year's winners will be selected in May, committee officials said.

Sunday night's guest speaker was Al Whitley, who was named director of the Internal Revenue Service's Computing Center in Martinsburg last April.

Before coming to Martinsburg, Whitley was director of telecommunications for the IRS in Washington, D.C.

Whitley, who lives with his wife and two children in Freeman, Va., called King one of the "greatest Americans and possibly one of the greatest men that ever walked this Earth."

While the country has made improvements in race relations, Whitley said he believes King would still be appalled at some conditions, including increasing numbers of schools that house mostly minority students.

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