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Manchin announces grants for Eastern Panhandle

October 17, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

EASTERN PANHANDLE -- West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin on Friday presented grants to help make the Harpers Ferry, W.Va., train station fully accessible to the disabled, to preserve Civil War battlefield land near Shepherdstown and to help construct a rail trail in Morgan County.

Manchin announced a $285,700 award to the West Virginia State Rail Authority, which officials said would help pay to build platforms at the Harpers Ferry train station and rehabilitate shelters there for MARC commuters.

The State Rail Authority has until 2010 to have accessibility standards in place to comply with an Amtrak mandate, Rail Authority Executive Director Cindy Butler said in a recent interview.

Manchin noted the importance of the MARC commuter train service to the Eastern Panhandle. He later said he wanted to meet with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley about a proposed reduction in service by the Maryland Transit Administration because of the neighboring state's budget cuts.

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Aside from maintenance, capital improvements and rent for a ticket sales office, West Virginia currently does not contribute to MTA's operating budget for MARC.

Manchin also announced grants of $100,000 for the Shepherstown Civil War Battlefield preservation initiative and $314,400 for a rail trail in the Paw Paw area in Morgan County.

Morgan County Commissioner Glen R. Stotler said the trail project will feature six bridges and three tunnels when completed and was the result of cooperation between officials on the state, federal and local levels in West Virginia and Maryland.

Stotler credited U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd for allocating $1 million for the project.

Manchin also presented Felicia Stevenson of the FOCUS Coalition in Jefferson County with a $14,230 grant to assist the youth-focused organization's intervention programs for anger management and drug-free programs.

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