The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

August 28, 2013

Lawmaker seeks public feedback

As part of a tour to gauge public opinion, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., stopped at the Prince Amtrak Train Station Tuesday to meet with local railroad officials and members of the community.

“Part of my month of August is set up to get an assessment of what people think is going on in Congress and how they feel about it,” Capito said. “I’m on the transportation committee and the rail subcommittee. I’m learning about the rails and we’re seeing a lot of repair work going on. We’re also talking about economic development and health care.

“It’s just a general sense of how people feel about what is going on in Washington and the frustrations that they have. I’m getting to meet a lot of new people in the process.”

Capito came to Prince through an invitation by local officials.

“The Prince Railroad Authority invited me to look at the Prince Amtrak Station to see the historic value of this property that was built in the ’60s and to talk about refurbishing and renovating the location so that we can bring it back to life,” Capito said. “It’s an active Amtrak Station now. With the Bechtel Summit Boy Scouts facility, it can really have a life of its own, a new life.”

As Capito and the other officials toured the building, the station’s potential to help local residents and organizations became obvious.

“I’ve been really surprised and amazed in a good way,” Capito said. “A lot of people are pitching in to try to create and make new and better things happen. Obviously we’re in tight times right now, but this is when you set priorities. I think a good and viable transportation system with a solid rail system is and should be a high priority for our country. It certainly should be for the state.

“The more we use our rails to transport cargo, chemicals, and construction materials, that’s fewer big trucks on our roads,” Capito added. “It’s less use of gasoline. It’s more efficient for carrying very heavy pieces of equipment. Keeping a vital rail system is important because we need a full transportation system.”

Capito addressed the small crowd that had gathered not just about local issues, but world issues as well.

“I’m very concerned about the situation in Syria,” Capito said. “I think the more we learn about the destruction and poisoning of innocents strikes deep into everyone’s heart in this country. I do believe there is a hesitancy on the part of many West Virginians to venture into another country, either militarily or in an aggressive way, so I think this is a conversation that the president needs to have with Congress when we get back.

“He needs to fully inform us, give us the intelligence and let us know what’s going on so that we can make that decision with him,” Capito added. “I don’t think the president should be making a singular decision and such a monumental decision.

“We’ve been watching this situation for years. The president has drawn a red line. His red line was the use of chemical weapons. It’s pretty much fully documented that (Syrian President Bashar) Assad has been using chemical weapons. The line has been crossed.”

Capito says that her time spent touring the southern part of the state has given her valuable information to help her make decisions in Congress.

“What’s important for me is to talk to folks and see things firsthand to be able to take the messages back to Congress,” Capito said. “So now I’m going to go back to Congress and maybe look at Amtrak and historical facilities in a little bit different way. These are the kinds of things that you see first hand and then take back and say, ‘We need to translate this into policy.’”

Capito’s tour of southern West Virginia will take her to Huntington today and to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs on Thursday.

— E-mail: cneff@register-herald.com

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