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CURRENT STORIES


2 cities get small portion of Digest pie

by Jim Fisher

METRO EDITOR

CHARLESTON -- North Central West Virginia will benefit from more than $1.4 million in appropriations from the 2004 Legislative Budget Digest, which was released Tuesday.

The big winner was Randolph County, which will see an infusion of nearly $450,000, including $150,000 for Pickens School.

In Harrison County, Clarksburg and Bridgeport practically were shut out of the yearly windfall. In past years, both cities have been fairly successful in garnering state funds for various projects. Clarksburg reportedly asked for more money than ever before, but was limited to just $55,000 -- $45,000 for a sidewalk improvement plan, $5,000 for a new computer system for the maintenance shop and $5,000 for street lights on Eagle Way leading to Robert C. Byrd High School.

Bridgeport was limited to funding for the annual Celtic Festival and the public library. The high school's Field for Tomorrow, a project to put artificial turf on the football field, again received Budget Digest funding, this year for $36,000.

Although the two cities received little legislative funding, the money that was appropriated will help, said Clarksburg City Manager Tom Vidovich.

"It's really important because we don't have to take that money out of our own pockets," he said. "Some of these projects wouldn't even happen without this funding. Some of them are very marginal and only happen when we are able to use other people's money."

Lewis County was another big winner in the Budget Digest lottery, garnering more than $306,000 for several projects.

The Lewis County Commission will receive $18,000 specifically for courthouse repairs and improvements and another unspecified $27,000.

That money will go a long way toward helping the commission deal with severely restrictive space, said Administrator Craig Presar. The courthouse also has some Americans with Disabilities Act issues and needs to be brought into compliance, he said.

"It will certainly help with some of the smaller projects," he said.

Not everyone gets large sums of money from the Budget Digest. Many fairs and festivals around the region often get a couple thousand, but even that can be very beneficial, Presar said.

"For some of the smaller organizations, even $1,000 or $2,000 can make a big difference," he said. "Sometimes that money can be crucial."

North Central West Virginia also won big in the Division of Highways budget appropriations. From that, the conference committee recommended the Corridor H Authority receive $125,000 and that the DOH spend up to $1 million to complete the Simpson Creek dredging project in Harrison County.

The committee also recommended the DOH begin immediately working on Corridor H feeder road system. This attention will provide the areas involved with Corridor H a smoother transition into the enhanced road system.

Metro Editor Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com