THIS WEEK

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HARPERS FERRY – Adding safety measures to protect motorists from falling rocks and boulders along U.S. 340 below Loudoun Heights will be the focus of a West Virginia Division of Highways public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 6 in Harpers Ferry.

OPINION

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As a 70-year old, super conservative property owner, business owner, and resident in Harpers Ferry, I am generally against State governments interfering in local affairs, but the Harpers Ferry town government hasn’t managed the Hilltop House Project effectively and efficiently, so I 100% support the Tourism Development District Act, which provides a solution to the current impasse regarding the Hilltop House Project.

I served on the Harpers Ferry Planning Commission from 2007 to 2014 and was a Commissioner when the SWaN Group presented their original plan for the Hilltop House in May 2010. This plan was inappropriate — and I was among the most vocal of critics. I subsequently served on the Steering Committee that developed the “Vision” for Harpers Ferry and worked on development of the East Ridge Promontory Overlay District Amendment — so I am aware of the criteria for development set forth in these documents. In addition, I have served on the “Make it Happen” Steering Committee, which has actively supported the Hilltop House Project since 2019.

The current plan for the Hilltop House meets the criteria set forth in the Overlay Amendment. I do not understand why Mayor Bishop and some of the Council Members oppose the SWaN Group’s use of paper streets and have otherwise failed to expedite the development process. I understand that “everybody wants a hotel built” — and I understand the appeal of an exact replica of the former Hilltop House — but SWaN’s current plan enhances the character of the former Hilltop House with amenities that will attract tourists year-round and consequently increase winter tourism. With increased sales during the winter season, other hospitality-related businesses in addition to the Hilltop House will pay increased Sales, Business / Occupation, and Room Occupancy taxes, to everyone’s mutual benefit.

As owner of the Town’s Inn in the middle of Lower Town ( 175 and 179 High Street ) since February 2007, I’d be especially interested in seeing if Town tax revenue records for all tourism-related businesses indicate the same revenue pattern that the Inn has experienced over the past fourteen years: operating at full capacity during the busiest period ( Memorial Day to Labor Day: June, July, August)  and then experiencing an 80% drop in income when the “most busy” period is compared to the “least busy” period ( January, February, and March ). Sadly, 80% of Inn expenses ( utilities, insurance, auto, maintenance, repairs, etc.) continue at about the same rate whether the Inn is very busy or very un-busy — so I have had to borrow money and lay off good employees every year for the past fourteen years because I cannot charge summer guests prices high enough to cover winter expenses.

SPORTS

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Mary Kathleen Ginnelly Hefestay, 70 of Kearneysville, WV passed away peacefully on Monday, January 27, 2020 due to complications associated with cancer. A Vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at the Jefferson Chapel Funeral Home, Ranson, WV. A Funeral Mass wil…

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Inga Louise Welch Price, 81, of Winchester, Virginia was called home by her Heavenly Father on the morning of Friday, February 7, 2020 from her son’s South Carolina family home. Her family and friends find peace with her passing, rejoicing that her body is no longer constricted by cancer, an…

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Winstead “Lee” Viands, 74, of Charles Town, passed away on Friday, February 7, 2020, at his residence under the care of Hospice of the Panhandle.

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Anna Belle Metro,   98 of Clearwater FL and formerly of Kearneysville, WV died on January 30, 2020 under the care of Hospice.

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Lewis Scott Rodgers, 56, of Harpers Ferry, WV passed away Monday, February 10, 2020 at the Hospice Inpatient Facility in Kearneysville, WV.