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Capito gathers with students, local leaders

March 08, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., speaks Tuesday morning to students at Martinsburg (W.Va.) High School. The high school chat was her first scheduled stop during a busy day in the Eastern Panhandle.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito fielded public policy questions from Martinsburg High School students and met with county leaders and members of the business community Tuesday in a visit to the Eastern Panhandle.

"I love to get out in the schools, it's amazing to me the kind of questions that they have, they're always really good," Capito, R-W.Va., said after speaking to members of the high school's senior class in the school auditorium.

Capito fielded questions about gas prices, revolution in North Africa and the Middle East, and the recently passed health care legislation, among other topics.

Martinsburg High School civics teacher Steve Brock said the questions asked were winnowed from about 350 submitted by students in the school's civics classes as part of student program that he facilitated.

After the hourlong program, Capito met with Berkeley County Council members  behind closed doors to discuss a number of issues, including the Environmental Protection Agency's standards for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, the proposed inland port at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport and possible Homeland Security-related developments at Summit Point in Jefferson County.

"It was a real good give and take," Capito said of the discussion.

Before meeting with stakeholders concerning the bay issue, Capito said in an interview that she told county leaders she would try to find federal funding to help the Eastern Panhandle with the costs associated with upgrading wastewater treatment plants and reducing farm-related nutrients from entering the Bay watershed.

"This is an issue that I've heard about here and there, but I haven't really dug into the details — obviously a lot of federal mandates — I need to make sure I understand it and be able to translate it back in Washington," Capito said.

The fact that West Virginia wasn't part of an initial appropriation for the bay has "definitely hurt us," Capito said.

"We got to play some catch up here."

When asked about the potential impact of proposed budget cuts on the Eastern Panhandle, Capito said she didn't believe federal agencies in the region, which employed more than 3,800 workers in Berkeley and Jefferson counties last year, would be negatively affected.

"I think everybody should be in pretty good shape quite frankly, just because these are sort of newer locations, relocations of the agencies.

"And also, realize that Washington, D.C., can no longer be the core center of where we have everything," Capito said. "We've got to spread it around. That's why I think we have an advantage."

In lunchtime remarks to City Club of Martinsburg, Capito said communities across the state will have to be creative to endure the proposed budget cuts now pending in Congress.

"The key is going to be for organizations like this and cities like Martinsburg and counties in the Panhandle ... is going to be how are we going to do more with less," Capito said.

Capito said that spending is always a concern.

"We have to cut spending, we have to rein in government," she said. "And I think we can begin by removing duplicative programs ... And I think if we do it the right way, it really won't influence the work force so much, it will make it a leaner and more efficient work force.

"You know, certainly, attrition, retirement, moving ... can be utilized to alleviate the pain," Capito said. 

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