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Regional issues at the heart of Quad State affair

October 16, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Economic development, tourism, Interstate 81 and other matters that affect the region will be discussed Friday when elected officials and others gather in Martinsburg for the Quad State Legislative Conference.

Although members of the public are invited to attend, the conference is not designed to include public comments, said Del. John Overington, R-Berkeley, who is the conference chairman.

It will be held at the Holiday Inn from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

First held in 1986, the conference offers not only a chance to meet neighboring officials, but also helps solve problems that extend beyond state lines, Overington said.

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"All of us feel that in some ways, our philosophy is closer to our neighboring states, our region ... than it is to our capitals," Overington said.

For example, he said Charleston, West Virginia's capital, deals with coal, glass and chemical industries, which are not a factor in the Eastern Panhandle.

Economic development officials will be present to discuss ways West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia can cooperate when it comes to jobs. A discussion also is scheduled on the regional hospitality alliance - an effort to bring schools together to train people in the hospitality industry.

Tourism officials will talk about events that could incorporate more than one state, including ones related to the Civil War or French and Indian War.

Updates on Interstate 81 will be given, including each state's plans for improvements. All four states are looking at widening the interstate to six lanes, Overington said.

Although it could change, Overington said elected officials who plan to attend include, from Maryland, Sen. John J. Hafer, R-Garrett/Allegheny/Washington; Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington; Del. Robert McKee, R-Washington; and Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington.

Officials from Pennsylvania who plan to attend include state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin; state Rep. Stephen R. Maitland, R-Adams; and state Rep. Patrick Fleagle, R-Franklin.

From West Virginia, along with Overington, participants expected to attend include state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley; Del. Walter Duke, R-Berkeley; Del. Charles Trump, R-Morgan; Del. Allen Evans, R-Grant; Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas; and Del. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley.

At least two elected officials from Virginia also are expected to attend.

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