County officials attend annual conference in Charleston
Morgan County Commission President Stacy Dugan, along with County Administrator Jody McClintock, Sheriff Vince Shambaugh, Assessor Ron McIntire and Grant Assistant Carol York, attended the annual conference of the West Virginia Association of Counties in Charleston last week.
The conference was held February 6–8 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and a shuttle was provided to and from the Capital building, Dugan said.
Dugan met with acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia Secretary of the Department of Commerce Keith Burdette to continue the discussion about forgiveness of all or part of the courthouse construction loan.
The idea of forgiving the loan was first put to the acting governor by Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson at an economic development roundtable
held in Martinsburg on January 13.
County commissioners agreed at the following commission meeting to keep pursuing the issue with Charleston.
Dugan said she also discussed tourism and infrastructure with Tomblin and Burdette, including getting the $22 million proposed expansion of Cacapon State Resort Park underway.
Another item of discussion was bringing a fiber optic communications super
highway, scheduled to arrive in Berryville, Virginia this summer, through Winchester to the Morgan County Business Park to help bring businesses and jobs into the county.
Dugan said she spoke to Burdette about linking the state parks’ website to Travel Berkeley Springs website.
Cacapon Park expansion
Dugan discussed the park expansion with Senator John Unger (D–Berkeley) who then arranged a meeting between her and Senator William Laird (D–Fayette). Laird is the chairman of the senate’s Natural Resource Committee.
Laird said he was familiar with the park expansion project and arranged a meeting for Dugan with Robert Beanblossom, District Administrator for West Virginia Parks.
“Beanblossom was very knowledgeable about Cacapon State Park and very excited to see us in Charleston fighting for the park expansion project,” Dugan said.
Beanblossom told her the project was now “ground-ready and shovel-ready.”
Dugan then spoke with Speaker of the House Richard Thompson. Thompson said he was very much in support of the expansion project at the park and had voted for the funding before the money was reallocated last year.
Dugan said she also spoke with Senator Walt Helmick (D–Pocahontas) and Senator Herb Snyder (D–Jefferson) seeking their support for funding the project. Helmick sat down with Dugan and discussed ways funding might be procured for the project, she said.
While at the capital, Dugan met with state highway engineer Jeffrey Stanislawczyk who is drafting the design for a connector road between U.S. 522 and Fairview Drive that will also provide access to the new War Memorial Hospital.
The road, as designed, is over a mile long with a bridge to span Warm Springs Run. The estimated cost is $8 million.
Dugan said funding is a question and it will be up to the county commission to seek federal funds for the project.
Dugan said she was “thrilled” to be invited by Senator Unger to attend the ceremony for the signing of the election bill by acting Governor Tomblin.
The Bill, HB 2853, sets the election dates for governor. The primary election is May 14 and the general election is October 4.