Published June 1995 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd West Virginia's 132nd Birthday
In 1863, West Virginia officially became the thirty-fifth state to join the Union. On June 20th of that year, the hardworking founders of the State of West Virginia watched their dreams become a reality, as the northwestern and western counties of Virginia finally were recognized by the U.S. Congress and President Lincoln.
As West Virginia celebrates its 132nd birthday, all of its citizens know that birthdays can be a reflective time. Usually, we take a moment to take a reflective gaze upon our past, and set our eyes on the horizons of the future.
Throughout my tenure in the Senate, I have worked to develop the infrastructure and economic opportunities of our state. One of my top priorities has been the construction of the Appalachian Regional Commission Corridor Highway System in West Virginia. Earlier this month, I participated in the ground-breaking for the final 3.1-mile section of Corridor G, reaching from Charleston to Williamson, a project for which I have added $329 million to federal appropriations bills.
I have also added $270.5 million to federal appropriations bills for construction of Corridor H, which will stretch from Weston, Lewis County, to Wardensville in Hardy County; and I have added $175 million to federal appropriations bills for construction of Corridor L, which runs from Sutton, Braxton County, to Beckley.
New opportunities can be seen springing up in all areas of the state as a result of my efforts. The FBI Fingerprint Identification Division facility taking shape in Clarksburg has already hired more than 1,000 employees, and expects to have a total of 2,500 people on the payroll once it is fully operational in 1998. In April, 450 employees began work in completed portions of this state-of-the-art facility, which will generate an annual economic impact of $75 million.
Additionally, the new federal prison in Beckley, which is nearly completed, is expected to hire a total of 491 workers, with employees beginning to occupy the minimum security portion of the facility next month. When fully staffed, the prison will have an annual economic impact of about $28 million.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Education and Training Center now under construction in the Eastern Panhandle will help put West Virginia in the spotlight as a national training center for conservationists. And the Classroom of the Future and the National Technology Transfer Center in Wheeling will further efforts to train our young people for the industries of the future. These projects are only a few of the vast number of my initiatives that are contributing to our state's future.
So, as we celebrate our state's 132nd birthday, let us rededicate ourselves to the economic development of West Virginia to ensure that our children will be able to celebrate many more West Virginia Days in the next millennium.
June 7, 1995