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Rockefeller visits Berkeley County

July 22, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV visited Berkeley County on Saturday to help kick off the state's Little League tournament and tour Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School.

Rockefeller spent time later in the day mingling with people at Roundhouse Rail Days in Martinsburg.

During the event, he discussed America's Better Classrooms Act, a $25.2 billion program that is designed to provide funding nationwide for school repairs and renovations.

According to the senator's office, the legislation, which he is sponsoring, would provide $170 million in tax-exempt bonds to West Virginia.

Rockefeller said the state needs that money, in part, to build more schools to keep pace with growing classroom sizes caused by population growth.

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"You have to give them a classroom," he said.

In addition, the senator said quality schools would attract quality teachers to provide a first-class education for students in West Virginia.

As Rockefeller strolled through the B&O Roundhouse, he stopped to watch blacksmith and steam hammer demonstrations.

Steam hammers were used to stamp out metal parts for use in the railway industry, said Joe Vanorsdale, a steam hammer operator.

Vanorsdale and the senator joked briefly before Rockefeller moved on to speak with blacksmith Frank Graves.

Graves said later that he appreciated Rockefeller taking time to visit the festival.

"(But) I feel a little embarrassed," Graves said. "I didn't know who (Rockefeller) was at first."

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