The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 4, 2014

Berkeley helps struggling McDowell town

The Associated Press

MARTINSBURG — A struggling town in McDowell County has gotten help from a county about 300 miles away in the Eastern Panhandle.

The Berkeley County Council transferred a surplus police cruiser to Gary for $1 after learning that the town’s only cruiser had been vandalized and there was no money to repair or replace the vehicle.

Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster Jr. presented the 2006 cruiser to Gary Police Chief S.P. McKinney during a ceremony Friday, media outlets reported.

“Thank you. We are reforming Gary’s police department. We hope to expand our staff as funding develops. This is a big step. Our current car had been vandalized and also had some engine trouble,” McKinney said at the ceremony. “This is a wonderful gift. It’s a great thing that’s come together. We’re just so thankful.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s office had asked Lemaster if he had any available vehicles after Manchin learned of Gary’s plight. Lemaster presented the request to the County Council, which approved transferring the cruiser to Gary.

“We know how to work together in West Virginia, and this ceremony is just further proof of this special quality. Collaboration plays an essential part to achieving success. We all need to work together,” Manchin staff member Keith McIntosh said at the ceremony.

McKinney said Gary’s population, which is about 400, had dwindled as coal mines in the area have shut down. He is the town’s only police officer.

“Certainly, the council was moved by the information that was provided by the sheriff and happy to be able to provide this assistance to another community in West Virginia that was most definitely in need,” Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Hammond said.