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Tabb, Whitacre seek 56 District seat in W.Va.

October 21, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - It has been difficult to convince lawmakers in other parts of the state to consider issues that Bob Tabb believes are important for the Eastern Panhandle, such as regional pay for state employees and more funding to pay for projects in the rapidly growing area.

But that does not bother Tabb.

"That's some of why I'm running," said Tabb, who owns Town and Country Nursery near Leetown, W.Va.

Tabb is running against Republican Jim Whitacre for the 56th District House of Delegates seat in the Nov. 5 election.

The Democratic candidate said he is running because he thinks he can be a strong voice in Charleston, W.Va., to represent the needs in the Eastern Panhandle.

A strong voice can be coupled with other factors that should help the Eastern Panhandle gain influence in Charleston in coming years, said Tabb, 50, of Route 1, Box 585, Kearneysville, W.Va.

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One factor is that the Eastern Panhandle will have two more seats in the House of Delegates this coming year, which could give the area an advantage on close votes, Tabb said.

Secondly, the Eastern Panhandle's rapidly growing economy is going to cause lawmakers in other parts of the state to pay more attention to the area because of the revenue it generates, he said.

"We're turning from the coal and chemical industries to more of the type of jobs were (seeing) in the Eastern Panhandle," Tabb said.

The regional pay issue that Tabb supports would give higher pay to teachers, police officers and other state employees in the Eastern Panhandle so they will not be tempted to leave the area for higher-paying jobs.

Tabb also believes it is important to have a statewide perspective in dealing with the area's needs. He said it is important to jump-start the rest of the state's economy to generate revenue for needs that exist across the state.

Whitacre said he wants to be a legislator to address the issues that face Eastern Panhandle residents on a daily basis.

Whitacre, 40, of 3829 Winchester, Ave., Martinsburg, W.Va., said there needs to be someone in Charleston to be watchful of legislation that could have a significant impact on the Eastern Panhandle.

An example is legislation passed last year that allows 4-year-old children to enroll in pre-kindergarten classes, Whitacre said.

Whitacre said he fears the legislation was passed so school systems with shrinking student populations will not have to lay off teachers.

But what state officials need to realize is how such a program will affect growing Berkeley County, which is already busy building new schools to keep up with student population growth.

The way Whitacre views it, growth can have a lot of ramifications.

"Some people say we're lucky to have it. Some say we're not," said Whitacre.

Whitacre said representing a district that includes Jefferson and Berkeley counties will be a challenge because different circumstances exist in the two counties. Jefferson County needs a second high school, and county officials there are considering implementing an impact fee that would help offset the cost of new schools, Whitacre said.

Berkeley County does not have impact fees, Whitacre said.

Whitacre has never held elected office but he serves on the Berkeley County Emergency Ambulance Authority and the Berkeley County Planning Commission.

Whitacre is a self-employed excavator and is the property manager for his family business, Whitacre's Mobile Home Park on Nadenbousch Lane in southern Berkeley County.

The 56th House of Delegates district is a new district that includes Summit Point, Middleway, areas around Leetown, some of the Bardane area, the west side of Rippon and reaches into Orchard Hills.

The district also crosses into Berkeley County, taking in areas around the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, the east side of Pikeside, Baker Heights and the Nollville/Arden area.

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