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County may buy building for visitor's center

April 10, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

West Virginia's top tourism official said Tuesday she would like the community to rally to save a state-run visitors center near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., that was nearly shut down last December.

County officials, meanwhile, say they are negotiating a possible purchase of the building.

State Tourism Commissioner Alisa Bailey said her agency wanted to stop running the visitors center after rent at the building went from $150 to $300 per month.

Other issues that led to the state's decision to stop operating the center included a lack of handicapped accessibility and lack of a fire escape on the building, which is off U.S. 340 in Bolivar Heights.

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Since then, elected officials and people involved in the area's tourism industry have been trying to come up with a way to keep the visitors center operating.

Bailey and other officials including Del. Dale Manuel, D-Jefferson; Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson; and Jefferson County Commissioner James G. Knode met Tuesday in Charles Town to talk about what is being done to keep the visitors center open.

Knode said the commission is negotiating to buy the building from owner Victoria Drumheller, who leases space for the visitors center.

If the commissioners are successful in purchasing the building, they are considering giving it to the Jefferson County Visitors and Convention Bureau to operate as a visitors center, said Knode.

Bailey urged local governments and other members of the community to contribute what they can to help the center meet expenses. Staffing the center alone costs about $15,000 a year, said Bailey.

One local official stepped forward with help.

Harpers Ferry Mayor Jim Addy said the town will contribute water and sewer service to the building.

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