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Area is gaining residents

April 16, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - More people moved to Frederick County, Md., than to any other county in the Tri-State area over the last four years, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Berkeley County was the fastest growing county in West Virginia during that period.

The five other Tri-State area counties also gained new residents.

Berkeley County's population increased by 8,842 people from July 1, 2000, to July 1, 2003. The county's population in July 2003 was 85,272, compared with 76,430 in July 2000, according to the Census Bureau's estimates.

"We're growing in leaps and bounds," Berkeley County Commissioner Howard L. Strauss said. "We're by far the fastest growing county in West Virginia."

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Second to Berkeley County in growth in the state was Jefferson County, which had an increase of 3,826 residents over the last four years. Jefferson County had 46,270 residents in July 2003, up from 42,444 in July 2000, according to the Census Bureau's estimates.

The population of Morgan County in West Virginia grew by 501 residents. It had 15,013 residents in July 2000, compared with 15,514 in July 2003.

Frederick County's population grew from 196,595 people in July 2000 to 213,662 in July 2003, an increase of 17,067 residents, according to the Census Bureau.

Washington County's population grew from 132,112 in July 2000 to 136,796 in July 2003, an increase of 4,684 people.

Washington County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said the population increase worked out to a rate of about 1 percent a year, which is typical for Washington County.

But with the county experiencing an increase in the number of building permits issued and other growth activity, Wivell said he would not have been surprised if its population numbers were higher.

Pennsylvania counties also showed growth, with Franklin County's population increasing by 3,613 people over the last four years. Franklin County's population was 129,542 in July 2000 and climbed to 133,155 by July 2003.

Fulton County's population was 14,265 in July 2000 and increased to 14,534 by July 2003.

Strauss said people are attracted to Berkeley County because of its rural characteristics and the convenience of commuting on the MARC train to the Washington area.

The growth, he said, is "both good and bad."

Strauss said a population increase helps bring in industry so people who live in Berkeley County have more opportunity to work there.

At the same time, the increase in residents is putting a strain on the county's infrastructure, officials said.

The Berkeley County school system gains about 400 students a year, which roughly would fill one new school a year, Strauss said. The county is issuing an average of about 500 building permits a month.

"It's difficult for the Board of Education as well as for the county ... to meet the demands," Strauss said.

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