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Retiring commissioner misses his final meeting

December 20, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Robert Burkhart, a long-time Berkeley County commissioner, missed the last regularly scheduled meeting of his career Thursday after he was taken to the hospital.

"I think he was disappointed. Very disappointed," said Burkhart's daughter, Bobbi Miller, who was speaking from his hospital room at Winchester Medical Center in Virginia. "I think he wanted to say good-bye to everybody."

Burkhart suffered a stroke in April, but he was not taken to the hospital this week for problems related to that, Miller said. Instead, he started experiencing weakness and pain in his lower extremities, she said, signs that a chronic heart condition he started to suffer from before the stroke had returned.

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Burkhart's prognosis is good, Miller said, and he was conscious and lucid. Admitted Tuesday afternoon, Burkhart - who observed his 75th birthday at the hospital Thursday - could be released today.

An orchardist who has served Berkeley County for 40 years, Burkhart announced two years ago that he would not seek another term on the County Commission.

He served on the three-member commission from 1962 to 1985, then was elected circuit clerk, a job he held until 1992. He was elected to another six-year commission term in 1996.

Although Thursday's meeting was the last one scheduled for the year, Berkeley County Commission President Howard Strauss has said more than once that he would be available should a special meeting need to be called before the end of the year.

As people entered the County Commission's meeting room Thursday, some asked about Burkhart after seeing his empty chair. Strauss said he had little information, but said he expects Burkhart to attend the county's Christmas party today.

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