As news of the Byrd Center’s new mission and name makes its way across the Mountain State and beyond, Senator Byrd’s legacy in West Virginia is being re-energized as people anticipate the arrival of our traveling exhibit later this spring. In an interview with Martinsburg, West Virginia radio station WEPM this past Monday, Byrd Center Director Ray Smock spoke of Senator Byrd’s role as a master of the appropriations process and his work to steer federal funds to essential projects in West Virginia.
The records of this immense and far-reaching work reside in the Robert C. Byrd Congressional Papers Collection in the Byrd Center Archives. Occupying almost 900 boxes, nearly a third of the overall collection, the West Virginia Projects Series spans four decades of Senator Byrd’s work on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Though the Senator served on the committee from 1959 until his death in 2010, the amount of funds secured for West Virginia projects increased exponentially in the last two decades of his career when he was alternatively chairman and ranking member of the committee. As a result of this work, Senator Byrd successfully obtained over $10 billion for West Virginia, supporting countless infrastructure, education, tourism, and industrial projects.
The Byrd Center, a product of this remarkable record, has devoted a great deal of research to studying how Senator Byrd was so successful in securing billions in federal funds for West Virginia and the impact these projects had on the state. As we continue to find new reports and lists of projects, we have certainly showed that Senator Byrd made good on his stated goal of becoming West Virginia’s “Billion Dollar Industry.” His work to support West Virginia’s infrastructure, tourism industry, its historic landmarks, and many other projects show the dramatic impact Senator Byrd had on the state.
In the coming months as our traveling exhibit: “Senator Robert C. Byrd: Senator, Statesman, West Virginian” begins its two-year journey across West Virginia, we invite you to discover the legacy of Senator Byrd’s life and career in our state and our nation.
This week we officially launch the new name for our Center as the first act in a two year mission to commemorate the legacy of Senator Robert C. Byrd, which will culminate in November 2017, the 100th anniversary of Senator Byrd’s birth. This new name reflects a sharpening of our mission and a recognition of what we have accomplished since the Center opened in 2002.
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