Doyle hosts Town Hall meeting in Harpers Ferry
HARPERS FERRY — Delegate John Doyle held a Town Hall meeting at The Barn in Harpers Ferry on Friday, to share information on the special Legislative session and take questions from his constituents.
In his opening remarks, Doyle briefly discussed the Education Bill that was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice.
“The bill passed 51-47, with two absent,” Doyle said. “One good thing in it is the measure to help address locality pay.”
Doyle did not vote for the bill, because it approved the creation of three charter schools in the state in the first year, three more in the second year, three additional in the third year and so on.
Doyle also talked about the status of the MARC trains that serve Jefferson and Berkeley counties.
According to Doyle, MARC officials said last year that the funds needed to continue offering the service would be $3.75 million; however, the legislature only approved $1.5 million.
“I must commend my predecessor, Riley Moore, for securing the $1.5 million,” Doyle said, mentioning that after recent meetings between MARC and West Virginia officials, it appears as if the trains will be reduced to just one per day.
“They must have a public meeting on this,” Doyle said, mentioning that no meeting has been scheduled yet.
Doyle stressed that Eastern Panhandle residents should bombard Gov. Justice and the Department of Transportation with phone calls and emails, urging them to find the funds to secure the rail service.
Local residents Sandy Poole and Rochelle Prentiss both said they had expected to be able to use the MARC train when they moved to Jefferson County.
Jen Jones, a resident of Shepherdstown and a 14-year commuter, said she believes the abandonment of a proposed transit hub that was to allegedly be located on the orchard site that is now Rockwool’s property, caused the problems with the MARC service.
“Local government has said we’d rather have a factory than commuter trains,” she said.
According to Doyle, there was talk several years ago of the site becoming a transit hub, and that the project was one promoted by the late Dave Hamill, former Ranson mayor.
Doyle, however, placed the blame for the lack of funding on the shoulders of Del. Craig Blair, who serves as Senate Finance Chair.
“If Craig Blair supported MARC, it would be much easier to secure that funding,” Doyle said, mentioning Blair is opposed to any MARC funding. “If we want to fund MARC we can find the money. It’s not a money issue – it’s a political will issue.”