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Manchin cuts ribbon on new CVB headquarters

W.Va. governor speaks at official opening of four-day John Brown celebration

W.Va. governor speaks at official opening of four-day John Brown celebration

October 15, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

BOLIVAR, W.Va. -- Working under a canopy of umbrellas Thursday afternoon, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin cut a ribbon officially opening the new headquarters for the Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau off U.S. 340.

More significant is the fact that after years of operating out of a small trailer, which bureau and local officials said was a West Virginia eyesore, the agency moved next door into a spacious, two-story, modern cedar-frame chalet. The members and the seller closed on the building in September for $60,000.

"This was a long time coming," Manchin said after the brief ceremony. "It was always doable. It's good to see it come to fruition. Better late than never."

He said the official opening comes at a perfect time, as the nearby Harpers Ferry National Park celebrates the sesquicentennial of abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry on Oct. 16, 1859.

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"This (chalet) will give us a new image, more room to work and the ability to have a first-class operation," said Ronnie Marcus, president of the CVB.

The welcome center operates with 15 part-time employees and Paulette Sprinkle, the center's full-time executive director.

She told Manchin that his visit made the day special.

The governor left the center for the park in Harpers Ferry to speak at the official opening of the four-day John Brown celebration.

Last spring, about 60 students at Harpers Ferry Middle School researched, wrote scripts, produced and filmed their own videos of events surrounding Brown's raid on the village.

The students' videos depicted some of the more prevalent events of Brown's incursion into Harpers Ferry.

They created their own costumes to further illustrate their vignettes about the raid and its effects on Harpers Ferry, its citizens at the time and its history.

Sixteen people, including town residents, raiders and a slave, were killed during the raid, some by Brown's men, some by the military and some by angry town residents.

Manchin's visit to the park was to include the presentation of awards to the students, teachers and administrators for producing a successful project, said Betty Carver, commissioner of tourism for West Virginia.

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