Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, July 10, 2009

As appearing on on June 9, 2009

A CommUNITY Forum

(Charleston) There were lots of questions for a panel of metro government supporters at Wednesday's 'CommUNITY Forum' at the University of Charleston.

The guest speaker was Jerry Abramson, the mayor of Louisville. That city and the county enacted metro government back in 2003. Also on the panel Kanawha County's three commissioners, Kanawha County Senator Brooks McCabe, Charleston City Council member Marc Weintraub and Jack Rossi, the chairman of Charleston Area Alliance.

More than 100 people attended the forum. More than half filled out question cards, which were read to the panel that then responded.

Questions from the audience ranged from: would Charleston's user fee become countywide (the answer was 'no'), to would volunteer fire departments continue to operate as volunteer organizations (the answer was 'yes).

Amy Clendenin, with the Kanawha Valley Board of Realtors, attended the forum. She is in favor of moving toward a metro government but still had a few questions. "It's time for change. That's the only thing constant is change. And I'm keeping an open mind about all of this."

If Charleston merged with the county to form a metro government, it would bring together 15 cities and towns creating a population of 192,000. Currently Charleston's population is about 50,000.

After listening to Abramson's presentation and the answers the panel had to the questions posed by the audience, Clendenin said she sees metro government as a positive. "We've got to do something. It's only going to be better for consolidating on services as well as making us a bigger interest for businesses to come to this area. I think that's key."


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