Capito spends Labor Day in Eastern Panhandle parks

September 06, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Albert Kave remembers how the Men's Club didn't become the Shepherdstown Lions Club 60 years ago, "because we wanted to keep the money in Shepherdstown."

Kave, 91, and Henry Snyder, 92, are original Shepherdstown Men's Club charter members. It was organized in 1945 to own and operate the War Memorial Building downtown and the 28-acre Morgan's Grove Park south of town as community facilities. Monday's picnic also served as the club's 60th anniversary celebration.

The featured speaker was U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. It was Capito's third Panhandle event of the day, which began at 7 a.m. at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg, W.Va., for the annual Labor Day Breakfast. At 9 a.m., she presided over the dedication of the park's new $165,000 concession stand, for which the congresswoman secured half the amount through a federal grant.


Her next stop was the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department in Bedington, W.Va., where she was praised by firefighters for her role in getting a $625,000 federal Department of Homeland Security for a new 100-foot ladder truck.

The truck is being built and should be ready for service in the spring, Bedington Fire Chief Tom Newcomb said. Space is being built at the department's substation on Mid-Atlantic Parkway, where the truck will be stored, Newcomb said.

Capito's final stop Monday was the Shepherdstown picnic, where she made a point in her remarks to question the Bush administration's slow response to the devastation in the Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Katrina last week.

The administration is under fire for not getting federal assistance into the devastated areas fast enough to help those affected by the storm and floods.

"It was a sobering sight to see those pictures on television," Capito said. "We need to step back and assess where the breakdown was and why it happened."

Breakfast banter

Bonn "Buzz" Polan was selling tickets for the War Memorial Park's Labor Day Breakfast, held every year since 1975. Several of Monday's volunteers, including Polan, have worked the breakfast since it began.

"I started washing dishes. In those days, we used to serve it on china plates," he said.

Tickets were $25 a plate for the breakfast, the park's biggest fundraiser of the year, Polan said. "We usually net $7,000 to $8,000 a year for capital improvement projects," he said.

The park board had to match the $82,500 grant that Capito secured for the concession stand, he said.

The park was created on 20 acres in 1947 as a living memorial to those who served in all of the nation's wars. The City of Martinsburg took it over in 1987.

Bedington truck

Robert Robinson, longtime chief of the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department until he retired, credited Newcomb for drafting the grant application for the new firetruck.

Newcomb, in turn, credited Capito for her role in getting the grant.

The truck will cost $750,000 when fully equipped, and will be available for service throughout Berkeley and neighboring Panhandle counties as well as Washington County and Frederick County, Va., on mutual aid responses, Newcomb said.

The Bedington fire department got its start in an old barn with a used 1939 pumper in 1963, Newcomb said.

Men's Club turns 60

George Alwin, Shepherdstown Men's Club president, said the club has about 185 members, nearly half of whom are women. Several women have served as club president.

The members decided to leave the name as is, even with women members, because of tradition, Alwin said.

The club also owns and maintains the War Memorial Building in Shepherdstown as a community center. It was once a Methodist church, Kave said.

He said that at the time the club was created, a group of Lions Club members from Martinsburg met with a handful of men in Shepherdstown in an attempt to reorganize the defunct Shepherdstown Lions Club.

"If we did that we would have had to give them money, so we decided to form the Men's Club and keep the money in Shepherdstown," Kave said.

The Rohrersville Band from Washington County performed a one-hour concert at Morgan's Grove Park to end the day's festivities.

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