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Byrd gets money for Harpers Ferry in 2007 bill

July 13, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd said Wednesday he has earmarked $400,000 to protect the Harpers Ferry Center from budget cuts, and he also announced that another $1.2 million has been designated for improvements to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

The Harpers Ferry Center produces and designs media for national parks across the country and the center's director told county officials earlier this year that the facility will be facing about $400,000 in budget cuts next year.

Gary Candelaria told the Jefferson County Commission recently that one possible way to offset the budget cuts is having workers who are eligible for retirement consider retiring from the center.

Another option is finding other jobs for the workers in the National Park system, Candelaria said.

Byrd announced in a news release that $400,000 to fill the budget hole was cleared by a key Senate committee recently.

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Byrd, the senior Democratic member of the Senate appropriations committee, said the fiscal year 2007 interior appropriations bill also contains $1.2 million to do work in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park such as renovation of the historic armorer's house, construction of a new visitors information center in Cavalier Heights and installation of new signs in the park.

The $1.2 million also includes $302,000 to begin a new museum and maintenance storage facility, said Byrd, D-W.Va.

With committee approval, the legislation next moves to the full Senate for action, Byrd's office said.

"The Harpers Ferry Center, which is where most of the displays for our national parks are designed and fabricated, is an important source of jobs for West Virginians. I could not stand by and let its funding be slashed and pink slips be issued. The funds that I added to the bill will save key jobs and help to preserve the Center's viability," Byrd said in the release.

The Harpers Ferry Center employs about 173 people, who earn an average of about $80,000 a year, Candelaria said.

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