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DuPont donates land for fire department in Berkeley County

July 13, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. - Officials with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. are expected to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday to formally announce the donation of nine acres of wooded property in northern Berkeley County to the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department.

DuPont regional public affairs spokesman David Hastings said Wednesday that he and two other officials are planning to take part in a small, informal presentation at the fire department's main station off Bedington Road.

"We're just kind of taking a low-key approach" in making the announcement, Hastings said when asked about the Wilmington, Del., company's land donation filed May 22 in Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small Jr.'s office.

The property borders U.S. 11, north of DuPont Road and is close to the historic Porterfield Farm where the Civil War battle of Falling Waters was fought, sources familiar with the donation said Wednesday.

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A substation is envisioned for the property and the fire department's annual fundraiser, the Interstate Fair, might also be staged there, Bedington president Robert "Robbie' Robinson said.

Staged next to the I-81 Flea Market since 2001, the fair could not be held this year because the property was sold. The new owner allowed the carnival to be held last year, but now is developing the property, Robinson said. The previous owner allowed the fair to be staged at no expense to the fire department, Robinson noted.

With the additional substation, Robinson expects residents in the Falling Waters and Marlowe, W.Va., areas to get some insurance rate relief, in addition to improved response time.

"We knew eventually that the north end of the county was going to grow," Robinson said of the department's needs precipitated by the community's population growth. The department already maintains a substation in the Mid-Atlantic Industrial Park.

Though DuPont's last active business near Falling Waters, W.Va., was sold in September to Sentinel Capital Partners, the transaction did not include the fire department's property, which was part of a buffer for the industrial site, officials said.

Sentinel formed Fasloc Inc., and the newly formed company retained nearly 100 jobs at the plant. Max Burnham, DuPont's former plant manager at the Potomac River works, was made CEO of the newly formed company.

Burnham and two other leading Fasloc officials also were invited to take part in the deed presentation.

"I think the broad message that we want to convey next Wednesday is that we appreciate everyone who has played a role in this," Hastings said.

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