Region concerned about FBI layoffs
by Troy Graham
The FBI fingerprinting complex in Clarksburg has
long been viewed as an economic savior that has provided stability and
employment in a region hard hit by the loss of industrial jobs. That stability
was shaken last week when it was reported that 300 temporary workers could
be laid off in October 2000. The workers were part of a force of 1,100
employees hired to help the FBI sort through a backlog of 3 million fingerprints.
The backlog is gone, and 800 employees have found permanent work at the
FBI, but the future for 300 more workers remains uncertain.
Area leaders, however, point out that there is more
than a year until the 2000 deadline, and they will be working to find a
way to keep them on at the FBI. Clarksburg City Manager Percy Ashcraft
and Finance Director Frank Ferrari already have meetings scheduled at the
end of the month with West Virginia's congressional delegation to discuss
a number of issues. "This employment issue wasn't one of them, but now
it is," Ashcraft said.
James DeSarno, assistant director in charge of the
FBI center, said last week that he hopes to find new positions for those
employees. Ashcraft points out that the last time Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.,
visited the area he discussed taking the FBI's work international. He said
the FBI could do the same fingerprint service it performs for American
law enforcement for police in other countries.
"As technological and sophisticated as law enforcement
is, and changing every day, I'd think there's new things that can be done,"
Ashcraft said. Even if nothing new can be found at the FBI for those employees,
Harrison County Chamber of Commerce President Larry Mazza is confident
they can find work with the training they have received and the opportunities
"My initial reaction is I feel for the people on
that list of 300. The good news is they have an ample notice," he said.
"If the people are willing to be flexible they should be able to replace
a good portion of that salary locally."
Ray Farley, the executive director of the Harrison County Development
Authority, pointed out another lesson.
"Up and down the corridor we need to be cognizant that government contracts
aren't infinite," he said. "Be it making airplanes or processing fingerprints."
The fact that the employees quickly eliminated the
backlog of fingerprints speaks well for the area's workforce, Mazza said.
"A lot of things can happen between now and October," he said.
Magistrate denies peace
bond against alleged bigamist
by James Fisher
A Harrison County magistrate denied a peace bond
against a Wolf Summit man accused of being married to two women at the
same time Monday. The bond was filed by Robert Andrews' alleged second
wife, who said he threatened her with a knife Jan. 31.
Magistrate Warren Davis found no probable cause
for the peace bond and told both Andrews and Pamela Swiger they should
stay away from each other. Swiger testified Monday the incident began when
Andrews told her he was going back to live with his wife, Debbie Andrews.
Swiger said she left her apartment building on West
Pike Street and he followed her. Andrews grabbed Swiger's arm, she testified,
pushed her against a wall and threatened her with a knife. She said
he also put his hand on her throat.
Andrews testified the pair did argue, but he did not threaten her or
put his hands on her throat.
Andrews testified he had given Swiger his wedding
rings and keys to her apartment and told her the relationship was over.
Andrews' sister, Mary Hayes, testified she had made arrangements to meet
Andrews at Swiger's apartment and saw the pair arguing outside. She
said Andrews had his hands on the wall around Swiger, but did not touch
her. She also testified she never saw a knife.
Charles Case, one of Swiger's neighbors, testified
he walked by as Andrews and Swiger were outside. He testified he saw them
talking and saw Andrews put his hand against her throat. He also testified
he did not see Andrews threaten her with a knife.
Andrews has been charged with marrying Swiger in
October in Virginia while he was still married to Debbie Andrews.
At a preliminary hearing in December, Davis found probable cause in
that case. The case is scheduled to be presented to the May term
of the Harrison County grand jury.