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Table games approval might help Shepherd University

November 21, 2009

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- If a table games referendum is passed in Jefferson County next month, revenue from the games at Charles Town Races & Slots is being eyed as a potential funding source to help Shepherd University build a parking garage, officials said Friday.

Jefferson County is scheduled to vote on the table games referendum Saturday, Dec. 5.

Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson, and state Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson/Berkeley, said in interviews last week they have urged West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin to support their efforts to identify a funding source for the university's parking garage project.

If voters allow table games, Doyle hopes to divert a portion of the potential new revenue generated at the racetrack from the West Virginia Lottery Commission's operating budget to Shepherd University.

Under current law, 1 percent of the table game revenue at Charles Town Races & Slots would go to the lottery commission for at least two years for administration, Doyle said.

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"Many of us didn't think they needed it," Doyle said of the allocation, which applies to the other racetracks in the state where table games already have been approved. "It is, at the moment, up in the air what will happen to that 1 percent after the two-year period."

Manchin said in a Shepherd University press release that he couldn't promise specific funds for a parking garage, but confirmed he was working closely with Jefferson County lawmakers and legislative leaders to identify potential revenue sources.

"Shepherdstown is a vibrant university community set amid one of our state's most historic areas and we have to find a solution that allows the town, the university, and the residents to thrive," Manchin said in the release. "I think it's important that the community understands that during these tough economic times, we don't know what the future holds, but we are all working together to look for ways to make this happen if we can identify new revenue sources."

Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley said in the release that the university is working diligently with town leaders, state legislators and Manchin to find ways to fund a parking garage that the university and town need.

"Shepherd is a dynamic, growing university, and I think everyone in this community and at the state capitol understands that our parking demands have quickly outgrown the town's available spaces," Shipley said. "We applaud Gov. Joe Manchin for his ongoing support of our area's key needs and, as new revenue sources develop, we will work with the governor, area legislators, and the town leadership to increase parking convenience in Shepherdstown."

Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer said in the release that the parking garage "is a No. 1 priority that will benefit Shepherdstown residents and businesses."

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