September 08, 2015

Manchin Visits Area for Labor Day Celebrations | Martinsburg Journal

HARPERS FERRY - West Virginia's future - as well as its past contributions, especially in terms of workers - was never far from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's thoughts as he visited locally over the Labor Day weekend, attending events that highlighted local individuals' efforts to continue moving forward collectively.

His visit began Sunday night with a reception honoring outstanding Civil Air Patrol cadets, young men and women he praised for their leadership skills.

Monday morning included serving breakfast to a large crowd at War Memorial Park before traveling to Harpers Ferry to meet with business owners who are rebounding from July's fire.

Harpers Ferry business owner John Maxey, left, shares his concerns with rebuilding with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and other owners who were affected by the fire last month, during a meeting in the Harpers Ferry train station Monday afternoon.

At that time, Manchin said he was struck by "all of you being on the same page, and working together to make the town as good as it ever was. In fact, I think it can be even better. We want to do everything possible to preserve this history, because there's not another Harpers Ferry."

It was also an opportunity to brainstorm about remaining problems that need to be solved, and the various high-ranking federal officials and agency heads he could contact to help with the reconstruction process - something that is both harder and more important since it's happening in a historic district, Manchin said.

Before driving back to Washington, Manchin said the "can-do spirit" he'd experienced couldn't have come at a better time - especially since he is still pondering whether to support the proposed Iran nuclear deal.

"That's why I'm going back there right now, because I've got some meetings and questions I still want answered," he said,

Although he believes the deal will be approved regardless of his vote, Manchin said he plans to announce his position this morning - probably during a conference call with members of the media.

"My peace of mind depends on knowing that if it goes forward and if I vote for it, do I have the confidence that we're able to snap back and put provisions in place that puts hardships on a terroristic regime? They are not going to change, and we know that, so how do we move forward with confidence?" he said.

"Another concern is that most of the restrictions we've put on them are strictly time guidelines but don't really have anything to do with good behavior. Well, we come from West Virginia where you usually have to earn respect and trust. That's especially true if you've messed up, it's necessary to work your way back up to be in good graces," Manchin said.

Harpers Ferry Mayor Greg Vaughn, who along with some other town officials met privately with Manchin prior to his tour of the burn site, said he appreciated him taking time to visit - especially since he has so much on his mind.

"The senator took time out of his busy schedule to come to this little tiny municipality, even though he is involved in so many of the big things going on in the world. That means so much to us and is very humbling, because it is clear he appreciates what local folks have been doing and also wants to be a part of helping them move past the fire," Vaughn said.

Adversity can bring out the best in people, and that's what has happened locally, he said, adding that professionals from across the county, region and state have done their best to help the town and business owners recover.

"I especially have to thank state Sen. John Unger (D-Berkeley) for reaching out to West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee. He made that call, and within five or six days Gee brought 15 of his senior executives here and we met for three hours. It has all bee pretty amazing," Vaughn said.

By:  Jenni Vincent