February 28, 2013

Eastern Panhandle constituents meet with Sen. Manchin in Washington to discuss local issues | Martinsburg Journal

WASHINGTON - A bus full and then some of Eastern Panhandle constituents brought local flavor to the nation's capital early Wednesday morning for a regional event at the office of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
The group of residents, business owners and community leaders was invited to join the freshman senator for his Wednesday Wake Up With Joe event, which is held weekly when Congress is in session.
Breakfast was furnished in part by the Eastern Panhandle's own Royalicious Bagel Bakery and Blue Ridge Community and Technical College's culinary program. Dustin Force, a culinary program student, said he was excited and anxious to be attending the event.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., shakes the hand of a constituent during Wednesday Wake Up With Joe — a weekly event held in Washington during the session. A bus full of Eastern Panhandle constituents visited the senator as part of the event.

"It's a big event for us as students," Force said of presenting food he and his classmates made.
Attendees said they planned to take advantage of the informal meet-and-greet to discuss regional issues with Manchin. Annette Gavin, of the Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she wanted to discuss issues related to funding for the state's Matching Advertising Partnership Program, or MAPP, which matches county advertising costs.
"We have a lot of competition ... that's directly aimed at our county and visitors coming," Gavin said. "With us not being able to use those dollars in advertising, it's a big concern for us."
Tourist spending in Jefferson County was approximately $769.6 million in 2010, according to an earlier report in The Journal.
"Tourism development is a big part of what we do in Jefferson County and those dollars are very important to us," said Patsy Noland, of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
In contrast to Gavin and Noland, other constituents didn't have particular agendas by attending the event. Niles and Rosalie Bernick, of the Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee, said they were just happy to be there.
"We're thrilled to have a chance to get to see him, talk to him and learn what he has to say about the issues of the day," Niles said.
The couple said they also felt positive about the number and diversity of constituents present.
"It's encouraging," Rosalie said.

By:  Rachel Molenda