Byrd hails Harrison
development efforts
by Troy Graham

    Comparing himself to a gardener who has sown the seeds for economic development along the Interstate 79 corridor, U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd painted a bright picture for the region's economy during a keynote address Saturday for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce.
    "I tell you the possibilities for private industry spin-off and new sprouting and development along I-79 and in Harrison County are enormous," Byrd said. ŅI have planted and prepared this soil well, and I will continue to water and fertilize whenever the possibility for new seedlings presents itself."
    At its annual dinner, the chamber doled out awards in five categories, while the U.S. Small Business Administration handed out its first annual ATHENA award to a woman entrepreneur.
    The chamber handed out its first ever Growth Award for a company or citizen that contributed to the area through beautification or development. American Destination, a travel agency that relocated to the Broadway section of Clarksburg, took home the honor.
    Bridgeport Mayor Joe Timms was named as the chamber's Citizen of the Year, while United Hospital Center, one of the county's largest employers, took home the award for business of the year. The Heritage Square Book Cafe won new business of the year.
    Mary Lou Jones, a co-owner of Home Finder's Plus Realty received the ATHENA award. This was the first year for the ATHENA award in Harrison County, an award designed to specifically honor female entrepreneurs. The award criteria included someone who has served the community in a meaningful way and who assisted women in reaching their full leadership potential.
    Jones will be invited to join over 2,600 other recipients and their chamber representatives and sponsors who are part of the ATHENA Foundation's international network of leaders. The foundation is nationally underwritten by the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. and National City Corp.
    Byrd referred throughout his speech to the federal dollars, projects and jobs he has continually brought to the area.
Byrd pointed out that the FBI fingerprinting facility now employs nearly 3,000 people, and he has continued to pump money into the site. The 1999 federal budget contained $13.9 million for the facility, and the 2000 budget includes $18 million, he said.
    "But as any good gardener will tell you, nothing will grow if planted in rocky, sterile soil, he said. "My efforts have only been successful because the people of Harrison County are made of the right stuff to support a bumper crop of prosperity.
    The workforce and the dynamic nature of the community "make this old tomato grower's heart swell with pride, Byrd said.
"I am proud to be working for all of you as your gardener-in-chief, and I hope to be able to do so for many years to come, he said. "You and I are planting for the future."

County residents garner awards from Harrison Co. Chamber of Commerce
by Gail Marsh

    After living in a number of large cities across the country, Josie D'Annunzio Faix said there's no place like home.
"Clarksburg is it. I can't think of a better place to choose to raise a family and to become a vital part of the community. In Clarksburg, you matter," she said.
    More than two years ago, D'Annunzio Faix stepped out on a limb and opened the Heritage Square Book Cafe, a Main Street book shop she refers to an "an oasis of calm in the midst of chaos." The establishment was named the New Business of the Year by the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce during its annual dinner Saturday night. "Not only was this an honor, but it was an encouragement to know that we are on the right track and are filling a need in the community," D'Annunzio Faix said.
    State Senator Joseph Minard was honored with the chamber's Ambassador of the Year award. The long-time, local restaurateur was cited for his service to the chamber and for in his promotion of the area.
    Minard served nine years in  the state House of Delegates before serving as a state senator from 1991-1994. He was reelected to the senate in May. "I was absolutely flabbergasted with the honor. It really felt good to be recognized like that," he said.
    Minard said he has worked as an ambassador for Harrison County while serving in the Legislature, helping to bring in a number of projects to the county, including securing a third circuit court judge position and establishing a Purple Heart Memorial to be constructed later this year.
    "With the restaurant business, I have been greeting people who come to Clarksburg my whole life. I continue to be an ambassador for the area wherever I go," he said.
    The chamber's Growth Award, given for a company or resident who contributed to Harrison  County's development or beautification, went to American Destinations, a travel agency owned by Curtis Edwards. According to Robert Caplan, the chamber's executive director, the agency was cited for bringing improvements to the Broadway area  of the city.
    "Curtis Edwards moved his business into an old building, renovated the building and beautified the area, which improved the business climate," Caplan said.
    Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Timms was named the chamber's Citizen of the Year for his dedication to public service. Since his retirement as president of CNG Transmission Corp. in 1996, Timms has been active in a number of chamber projects, including helping the organization to develop a strategic plan. "I was very flattered by the award. It's always nice to be recognized by your peers," he said.
    United Hospital Center was named as the chamber's Business of the Year. The facility employs 1.500 people and is the fifth largest hospital in the state.
    By taking over the Summit Center two years ago, UHC was able to save more than 200 jobs while continuing to provide services to residents in a five-county area. The hospital delivered $10 million in uncompensated patient care in 1998.
As part of the chamber awards event, the U.S. Small Business Administration awarded its first annual ATHENA award.
The honor is one of 2,000 given around the nation to honor women entrepreneurs.
    Mary Lou Jones, co-owner of Homefinder's Plus Realty, received the award for her community service and for assisting women to reach their full leadership potential. Jones has been in the real estate business for 11 years and started Homefinders Plus in 1993.
    She said she is most proud of the fact that her business has grown from 19 percent of the market share in Harrison County in 1993 to more than 36 percent in 1998. "I knew very little about the award since this was the first year it was given, but it was very much a pleasant surprise," Jones said.

Groups work to make sure
old city hall won't sit idle
by Paul Leakan

    The future of Clarksburg's old city hall lies in the hands of two different groups with one common goal: putting the historic building to use.
    The city's Municipal Building Commission and the Harrison County Landmarks Commission have been working separately to secure the building's future.
    The building, located on West Pike Street, has been vacant since the city moved into the current $3.7 million municipal building on 222 West Main St. in October 1997.
    The Municipal Building Commission, which owns the building, recently passed an ordinance to put the building up for auction. Before setting a date for the auction, the commission will consider the results of the city's environmental impact study of the building.
    The study, completed this week, included a test of the level of asbestos in the building. The results have not been released.
The building commission is expected to discuss the results and finalize any plans for an auction in the coming weeks, said City Manager Percy Ashcraft.
    Meanwhile, the Harrison County Landmarks Commission has been advertising for proposals to conduct a "re-use feasibility" study for the building. The commission wants to determine the best use for the building.
    The study would consist of two parts, according to Terry Schulte, director of the Harrison County Landmarks Commission.
    The first part would look into the actual physical condition of the building and how that relates to potential economic uses. The second part would determine what changes would need to be made to the building to accommodate its potential uses and how much those changes would cost.
    The landmarks commission received a grant from the state historic preservation office this past fall to help fund the study. The grant was worth about $7,000, Schulte said.
    The landmarks commission has been advertising for proposals to do the feasibility study in the Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram.
    The commission has not received any proposals yet, Schulte said. But several are expected by the time the commission stops advertising on April 10, she said.
    Once the study is completed, it could serve as a roadmap for whatever action the Municipal Building Commission chooses to take on the building, Schulte said.
    The building was built in 1888. It served as a post office until 1932, and was a federal building from 1932 to 1966. The city purchased the building in 1966 for $109,000. The city then spent an additional $69,500 to renovate it.
Ashcraft believes it will continue to serve as an important piece of the city's future.
    "You want to have life in some fashion circulating around that block," he said. "It's a building that we want to complement in our historic district with the Waldomore, the courthouse and some of the older buildings that make the city unique."


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