What lies ahead for 2013?
Looking ahead into 2013, Shepherdsstown faces the potential for some building and business projects. The local public library continues to move forward with a building plan to expand their walls and services. To do this, the library board has committed to moving to a location just outside the official town limits.
While the move and ultimate building project will provide space needed for children’s programs, expanded books and materials, additional computer space and much more, there are some who oppose the move outside of corporate limits. The topic was one of discussion at meetings in 2012 and will surely come before public scrutiny as the project progresses.
In addition to the library project, the town continues to work on the proposed annexation of the Rumsey Green project. Placemakers, the consultant hired to instruct the town and the Rumsey Green Development Group on a plan for the potential project, continues to provide reports to the town’s planning commission as details are hammered out on what the proposed project could look like.
As with the library project, there has been and will continue to be concerns raised about taking business out of the immediate downtown area. The town council has given no indication when a vote may come on the annexation of the proposed Rumsey Green site which is on Route 45 south of town. Any vote will likely come after completion of the proposals by Placemakers.
Heading out of town on Route 480, townsfolk also face the growth of the Morgan’s Grove Market property. Developer Peter Corum received approval from the Jefferson County Planning Commission to move ahead with the market project while following guidelines and some stipulations. Corum will appear before the county’s planners this Tuesday evening to attempt to forge ahead with the project while not completing requirements such as a traffic study.
Intended uses for the property include a food hub, general merchandise (retail), professional/business offices, community amenities and other associated uses.
While many individuals turned out to voice concerns over the proposed market, the county issued a Conditional Use Permit in March of last year. It remains to be seen how they will react to Corum’s push to move forward without first completing the requirements issued by the commission.
The new year will see continued construction on the campus of Shepherd University. While the underpass project will be completed and traffic back to normal on Route 480, the construction project on the new arts building continues with the detour through West Campus remaining open. A new campus in Martinsburg will also be a main focus for the University as the remote campus was approved and a site selected on Edwin Miller Boulevard.
The town will continue to offer celebratory parades for May Day, Christmas, Easter and a variety of other occasions as well as bring back the increasingly-popular Street Fest event in June. Apple butter making and a carnival continue to be part of the Shepherdstown Fire Department’s schedule.
What holds an unknown element as far as fire service for 2013 is whether the Jefferson County Commission will institute a fire fee. The fee has been discussed for the past several years with the commissioners taking a hard look at what revenue could be produced with its enactment. The topic is already one on agenda’s for the county’s governing body early in the year.
The fee, should it go into effect, could charge each household a fee for fire and ambulance service similar to the fee charged in Berkeley County. A final number has not been determined.
Another county story to bear watching is the outcome of a Federal indictment of Sheriff Bobby Shirley. Shirley was indicted in early June in regard to an incident stemming from a Dec. 27, 2010, police pursuit of bank robber Mark Daniel Haines.
Shirley, 61, pleaded not guilty in June to the charges that he falsified a document with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation of the alleged beating of Haines, and one count of deprivation of rights under the color of law.
In December, nine defendants were named along with Shirley in the civil case. The officers named came from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department, Ranson Police Department, Charles Town Police Department and West Virginia State Police.
If convicted on both counts, Shirley faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. The trial is currently scheduled to begin in January.
On a national level, but affecting all residents, is the continued inability of the Congress to reach an agreement on tax cuts and spending. At current writing, the Senate has passed a temporary measure to make the fall from the “fiscal cliff” less damaging that it could be; however, House members have not voted to approve what has come from the Senate. Everyday workers will likely continue to see tax increases as spending skyrockets in Washington.