WVU-P holds town hall meeting

PARKERSBURG – Hoping to obtain some funding from county officials, leaders at West Virginia University at Parkersburg held a town hall meeting Wednesday evening.

Joe Campbell, chairman of the college’s Board of Governor’s Guard Readiness Center Liaison Committee, said Wednesday’s town hall meeting was for questions and to provide an update on the progress of the proposed Readiness Center.

Campbell said there was no progress on the project, but officials wanted to update the Wood County Commission on the project.

Wood County Commission President Wayne Dunn said Wednesday’s informal town hall-style meeting at West Virginia University at Parkersburg was part of the commission’s on-going efforts to meet with people out in the county about problems, ideas and ongoing projects. Dunn and Blair Couch attended the meeting, as well as a number of students, WVU-P board of governors and other officials.

“We need to schedule a meeting with the board of governors to get an update on the armory project. I don’t really know a whole lot about it. From what we learned last night, it seems it’s smaller than I thought,” Dunn said.

Campbell said Dunn felt left out of things as they were progressing.

“I told him he had and I took responsibility for it,” Campbell said. Commissioners will be asked to return in a few weeks at the BOG’s next regular meeting for another briefing, he said.

Campbell, and others, want to make sure the commission is well aware of things as school officials continue to search for public funding sources.

WVUP’s proposed multi-use facility – a partnership with the West Virginia Army National Guard -can serve as an event and convention center for the college, hosting athletic events, banquets and trade shows. It will also house kitchen and storage facilities and classrooms. The facility is projected to seat as many as 3,500 people and encompass almost 58,000 square feet.

Phase II and III will be Guard portions of the project. The entire project will cost about $40 million. College officials need to come up with $8 million to meet their portion of the $13 million Readiness Center.

The National Guard has allocated $4 million for Phase I of the project, with another million from federal funds.

Earlier this year college officials announced a capital campaign had been launched, and officials are looking at a variety of ways to raise the money.

“We are looking for money from the commission,” Campbell said.

“They are going to be getting federal and state funds for the project and we were told they will need about $13 million from local sources, and we anticipate they are going to come to us for a portion of that, and we should participate,” Dunn said.

Commissioner Blair Couch said he was told the university’s board would like the county to come up with a total of $3.5 million over a period of several years.

“We agreed to $1.5 million back when the city was involved and the location was supposed to be on Fort Boreman. It’s an interesting discussion, but $3.5 million is a big number for us not to be more involved in the planning stages, which we haven’t been at all,” Couch said.

“They are counting on too much from us, I think,” Dunn said.