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$4.5M earmarked for Harrison

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

Harrison County will receive more than $4.5 million of $69.3 million in legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee for a variety of programs and economic development initiatives.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., obtained the funds, which included $2.5 million to start a new composites technology program at the Robert C. Byrd Institute in Bridgeport and at least $2 million to continue a cooperative project between the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center in Clarksburg and Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

The composites program will focus on training, development and demonstration of new technologies to support the aerospace industry at the Benedum Airport complex in Bridgeport.

"This new initiative will allow RCBI to expand its capabilities and to train small and medium-sized businesses on the uses of composite technology," Byrd said. "Already, a number of corporations have committed to using the new training facility, which will save them the cost of having to travel out of state for the services."

The program is an effort to help grow jobs and new technology and to bring businesses into West Virginia, according to Mark Julian, deputy director of the institute.

The cooperative program between the Veterans medical center and Ruby hospital will be receiving no less than $2 million according to language in the report accompanying the bill.

"This agreement allows veterans in North Central West Virginia to take advantage of the technical medical care close to home," Byrd said. "Instead of traveling great distances for specific medical treatment, which can be costly and difficult for veterans and their families, West Virginia veterans are able to receive care from the doctors and nurses at Ruby Memorial Hospital."

The program with Ruby was started in 1993 and has been successful in providing special services that aren't readily available such as eye surgeries for veterans, said Stan Frum, strategic planner of public affairs at the Veterans Center.

Byrd also obtained funding for these projects in North Central West Virginia:

-- $18 million for the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Center at Fairmont

-- $1.55 million for the Small Flows Clearinghouse Program at West Virginia University

-- $1.5 million for the National Alternative Fuels Training Program at WVU

-- $5.5 million to continue the National Dam Safety Program

-- $1 million to continue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities based at WVU.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or jbiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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