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Berkeley County developer remembered during Manchin's visit

September 08, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

STaSIS welcomed to Jefferson Co.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Bruce Van Wyk was known for his economic development in Berkeley County -- particularly along Foxcroft Avenue and the Martinsburg Mall -- so it was fitting that the bridge at the King Street exit off Interstate 81 was named in his honor Tuesday.

The Bruce Van Wyk Memorial Bridge dedication was attended by more than 100 people, including West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, and was held at The Holiday Inn, which Van Wyk developed in the early 1980s.

Teresa McCabe, board chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce of Martinsburg and Berkeley County, which coordinated the event, said she had the privilege of knowing Van Wyk when the hotel was developed.

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"He was a legion in the community, particularly in economic development," McCabe said. 

Van Wyk died in 2003 at the age of 63.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said, "Bruce was a leader in the community, and he was such an advocate for our children."

Arvon said Van Wyk adopted the Winchester Avenue Elementary School in Martinsburg as a partner in the late 1980s as part of the school-business partnership.

"He adopted the Winchester Avenue Elementary school students and provided so much for their families. No one knew a lot about that. He was very quiet about it," Arvon said.

Arvon said Van Wyk in 2001 helped get a school bond issue passed that provided funds for several new schools and renovations for others.

"He understood the importance of education and the role that it plays in economic development," Arvon said.

Manchin said "a leader is a dealer in hope," and that is who Van Wyk was.

Manchin said he has seen the areas that have grown.

"The retail centers, business offices, the hotels, the things he touched and the jobs he created." Manchin said. "Think of the lives he touched and how many people prospered from it."

Manchin said Van Wyk truly was a hero and thanked him for his achievements, "because all of us in Berkeley County benefitted."

Mikki Van Wyk said she was glad that "the life and work of Bruce" was celebrated. She said her husband had severe medical challenges, but his co-workers, his trusted advisers and his doctors made him all that he could be.

Ken Barton, Van Wyk's legal counsel and a former board chairman of the Chamber, said "he made us who we are."

Tina Combs, president and CEO of the Chamber, said "we are helping the community celebrate all that he did for the area."

Manchin stopped in Jefferson County earlier in the day.

At Summit Point, the governor welcomed STaSIS, an automotive engineering firm, which has expanded its operations and is in the process of transferring its corporate headquarters to Summit Point Motorsports Park.

He later helped cut a ribbon dedicating the Streetscape project in Shepherdstown.

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