July 09, 2011

Sen. Manchin visits Shepherdstown officials | The Martinsburg Journal

SHEPHERDSTOWN - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III visited Jefferson County on Friday to get "the pulse of the people" as debt talks continue in Washington, D.C.

After making stops in Charles Town and Ranson, Manchin and his staff met with Shepherd University and Contemporary American Theater Festival officials on campus before walking downtown Shepherdstown in the rain to meet with business owners and local residents.

Manchin said with critical votes looming ahead in Congress, he finds that West Virginians' major concerns involve finances, jobs and the economy. He said it is his responsibility to make decisions to take care of the American people and he wants to see fairness in the tax system.

The outcomes of these votes, Manchin said, will be significant "for the next generation, not the next election."

"It really charts the path for the rest of America," Manchin said of upcoming decisions as he walked along German Street from business to business. "I hope we can put politics aside."

He added, "People are concerned about the economy we have today. ... It's about survival."

When Manchin stopped at Blue Moon Cafe for CATF's Lunch & Art series, he told attendees that West Virginians base decisions on priorities, and he wanted to relay that to Washington, D.C.

"I thought that I could bring a little common sense to Washington, and I found there wasn't a lot of common sense there," he said.

Manchin also talked with Shepherd and CATF officials about the university and festival's successes over the years.

CATF Producing Director Ed Herendeen said the festival's success hinges on partnerships with Shepherd, the CATF Board of Trustees and the state Legislature, which has supplemented the festival's budget over the past couple of decades. This past year, the state even increased the amount awarded to CATF.

"It's just not happening," said Jenny Allen, president of CATF board, about an increase in arts funding in general. "The fact that we've been in good shape following your time as governor is amazing."

Manchin said Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, deserves credit for the fact that the CATF and Shepherd are able to fund various projects.

Shepherd also received state funds to construct the Center for Contemporary Arts, which houses CATF and broke ground for its Phase II building in April. According to James McNeel, CATF's director of development and marketing, the festival's 2013 season will use the new building's theater for performances.

By:  Tricia Fulks
Source: Senator meets CATF leaders