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Berkeley County officials back exhibit and education center project

July 25, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A plan to develop an exhibit and education center geared toward young people at Martinsburg's train station and adjoining historic railroad hotel won support Thursday from the Berkeley County Commission.

The commission agreed to write a letter of support for a $362,500 grant application submitted to the National Scenic Byways Program to develop the "For the Kids, By George" project in the train station and on a couple of floors of the restored hotel building, which was built before the Civil War.

The Martinsburg City Council is expected to consider sending a separate letter of support next week, City Manager Mark Baldwin said.

Project director James Castleman said Thursday that the grant application for the child-friendly project in support of the federally recognized Washington Heritage Trail would be decided in September or October.

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The Heritage Trail is a loop route about 137 miles long through Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties that takes visitors past historic sites with connections to George Washington and his family.

The grant application filed with the Byways Program indicated hands-on exhibits would include period games, clothing, uniforms, weapons and artifacts. Presentations about George Washington's years in the region as a surveyor, early colonial settler Morgan Morgan and Martinsburg founder and Revolutionary War Gen. Adam Stephen, among other subjects, also are part of the project.

There are 21 National Register historic districts and 126 historic sites near the Heritage Trail byway, ranging between a stone structure known as George Washington's Bathtub in the Town of Bath in Morgan County to Washington family estates in Jefferson County, according to the National Scenic Byway Program's Web site.

The federal byway program falls under the oversight of the Federal Highway Administration.

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