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Martinsburg, Charles Town among fast growing W.Va. communities

July 03, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg had the state's second-largest population gain from the years 2000 to 2004, and remains the 10th largest city in West Virginia, according to U.S. Census data released this week.

Charles Town, Ranson and Shepherdstown also posted population gains during that four-year period, while Bolivar, Bath, Hedgesville and Harpers Ferry posted small population losses.

Martinsburg's population grew by 633 residents, from 14,972 to 15,635.

Charles Town was fourth on the list of cities that posted gains in population, gaining 501 residents. Its population now is 3,408.

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"We're just a bedroom community," Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith said, referring to residents who live in her town, but commute elsewhere for work. "I'd love to say (the population growth) was because of all the new job opportunities, but it's not because of that."

People who move to Charles Town from Washington, D.C., or Frederick, Md., can buy a house for $250,000 or $300,000 - which is half of what they probably would pay where they came from, Smith said.

With the prices of houses skyrocketing, Smith said she worries that future population increases will continue to consist of people who have moved here from elsewhere, not those who grew up in the area.

"If I hadn't bought this house 30-some years ago, I probably wouldn't be able to afford it now," said Smith, who grew up in Charles Town.

Ranson was listed at No. 5 on the list of West Virginia cities that posted a population increase, gaining 481 residents. Its population is 3,432.

Shepherdstown was ranked No. 6, having gained 345 residents to have a population of 1,148.

Other cities that gained residents were Morgantown - which had the largest gain in population and now has 28,160 residents; Hurricane, with a population of 5,788; Keyser, with a population of 5,502; Petersburg, with a population of 2,582; Bridgeport, with a population of 7,462; and Buckhannon, with a population of 5,866.

Bolivar lost 21 residents from 2000 to 2004, with the town's population falling to 1,048.

Bath - commonly called Berkeley Springs - lost 13 residents, with the population falling to 712.

Hedgesville lost three residents, with its population now listed as 240.

Harpers Ferry lost two people, with its population now listed as 307.

Although it posted a net loss of 1,736 residents, Charleston remains the state's largest city, with a population of 51,685.

Other cities in the list of 10 that lost the most people were Huntington, Wheeling, Parkersburg, Weirton, South Charleston, St. Albans, Dunbar, Moundsville and Welch.

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