Charles Town

Hundreds gathered in Charles Town Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018 to protest a new manufacturing plant being built in nearby Ranson. The plant will manufacture stone wool insulation a few miles from public schools and neighborhoods.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 at 8:10 a.m. with additional interviews, plus reactions from local residents and the Jefferson County Commission, and FAQs from the W.Va. DEP.

Thoroughbred horses participating in a race at the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va.
Courtesy Photo / Coady Photography

The dog and horse racing industries have played a major role in West Virginia’s economy since the mid-1930s. But in recent years, lawmakers at the statehouse have debated whether these industries fit into the state’s economic future. Those who support the racing industry are fighting to see it survive, while others say it doesn’t bring in revenue like it once did.

The Happy Retreat mansion in Charles Town, W.Va. Formerly the home of Charles Washington, founder of Charles Town and brother to President George Washington.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Happy Retreat is a historic mansion in Charles Town that was once the home of Charles Washington – founder of Charles Town and brother to the nation’s first president. Today, the house is becoming a hub for public events, community outreach, history and tourism.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Hundreds of West Virginians travel from the Eastern Panhandle to Maryland or Washington D.C. every weekday for work. These commuters catch the Maryland-based MARC train, or Maryland Area Regional Commuter.

But during this year’s West Virginia Legislative session, lawmakers debated the future of the MARC train in the state.

Maryland threatened to discontinue MARC service to West Virginia unless certain provisions were met.

April 4, 1944: Critic John Bishop Dies at 51

Apr 4, 2018
Carl Van Vechten / Princeton University Library

Critic John Peale Bishop died in Massachusetts on April 4, 1944, at age 51. He was born at Charles Town in Jefferson County in 1892 and attended high school in Hagerstown, Maryland.

When he was 17, he experienced a temporary and unexplainable bout of blindness. That’s when he decided to become a writer. In 1912, his poem, ‘‘To a Woodland Pool,’’ was published in Harpers Weekly.

December 25, 1937: Statesman Newton Baker Dies at 66 in Cleveland

Dec 25, 2017
Newton Diehl Baker
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

Statesman Newton Baker died in Cleveland on Christmas Day 1937 at age 66. The Martinsburg native earned a law degree in 1894 and practiced law briefly in his home town. In 1896, he became private secretary to U.S. Postmaster General William L. Wilson, a native of Charles Town and former president of West Virginia University. After a year in Washington, Baker resumed his Martinsburg law practice before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, where he served as city solicitor and mayor. 

Charles Town, Jefferson County, Charles Washington Hall, Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

During a special session of the West Virginia Legislature in October, lawmakers passed a bill that makes redeveloping historic buildings in the state more viable, financially. The bill had widespread support from both sides of the aisle, but some are concerned it doesn’t go far enough.

E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Artist Patty Willis was born in Jefferson County on September 20, 1879. A painter, printmaker, designer, sculptor, and art historian, Willis studied at the Corcoran Gallery School of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Pratt Institute.

Body Camera
Morgantown Police

City leaders have agreed to help with the purchase of body cameras for police in Charles Town.

The Journal reports that the city council made the decision Monday to give the police department $3,300 for purchase and setup costs of cameras for fifteen officers.

Charles Town Race Track Opens: December 2, 1933

Dec 2, 2016
The Charles Town Race Track opened in Jefferson County on December 2, 1933.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

The Charles Town Race Track opened in Jefferson County on December 2, 1933.  It was the first track in West Virginia to open after the state legalized racing and parimutuel betting. The sprawling complex featured a 3,000-seat, steam-heated grandstand and a 200-seat restaurant.

e-WV Encyclopedia

Activist and physician Martin Delany was born a free African-American at Charles Town in Jefferson County on May 6, 1812. When Delany was 10, his family had to flee Charles Town for violating a Virginia law that forbid educating blacks. They settled in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and Delany eventually moved on to Pittsburgh, where he became a medical assistant.

Bicycles, Bikes
Pixabay

Officials in Ranson and Charles Town have decided to table a Jefferson County bike race.

The Journal reports the cities' councils postponed the Two Cities Criterium race indefinitely. The event was scheduled for July 9.

April 1, 1788: The Clendenins Start Their Journey to Kanawha Valley

Apr 1, 2016
e-WV Encyclopedia / The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America

On April 1, 1788, George Clendenin, along with family members and about 30 Greenbrier County Rangers, departed from present Lewisburg to make a new home for themselves in the Kanawha Valley. The previous year, Clendenin had purchased about 1000 acres of unsettled land, which would eventually become the heart of Charleston.

hollywoodcasinocharlestown.com

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has set an annual record for wagering volume per race.

Penn National Gaming, Inc. vice president Erich Zimny told The Journal that $111,664 was bet per race at the track in 2015. The previous annual record was $110,247 per race in 2012.

December 2, 1859: John Brown Hanged For Raid on Harper's Ferry

Dec 2, 2015
John Brown
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On December 2, 1859, abolitionist John Brown was hanged in Charles Town for treason for his raid on the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry six weeks earlier. While Brown’s raid had failed miserably, his capture and hanging had a much greater impact on national events. Brown’s actions set off shockwaves across the country. In the North, many hailed him as a hero. In the South, he was viewed as a villain and a true reflection of the North’s intended war on slavery.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Charles Washington, the youngest full brother of George Washington, died in Charles Town on September 16, 1799, at age 61. Charles Washington first came to present Jefferson County in 1780 and began constructing his home, Happy Retreat, on land he’d inherited from his half-brother. In 1786, Charles Washington laid out plans for Charles Town on 80 acres. The town square, where the courthouse now stands, was deeded by Washington as a gift to the town. Charles Town was incorporated the following year, and Charles Washington is buried nearby in the family plot at Happy Retreat.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The 23rd Annual African American Heritage and Culture Festival took place in Jefferson County over the weekend. From a parade to live music, and a memorial walk to the original site of John Brown’s Fort – the festival offered a variety of events for visitors.

Harpers Ferry was the site of the US Armory, and played a vital role before and during the Civil War.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Harpers Ferry, John Brown, US Armory, Robert E. Lee, Civil War

The 23rd Annual Jefferson County African American Heritage Festival begins Friday, August 14 in Charles Town.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new art installation appeared in Jefferson County, Saturday: Three big, concrete bees were installed on the grounds of Craftworks at Cool Spring. Craftworks is a nature preserve and an art studio located just outside of Charles Town.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

When you think of something being solar powered, what do you picture? Solar panels on roofs, bridges, in fields, maybe you think of solar cars. But what about a solar musician?

Zion Episcopal Church

Civil Rights activist Ruby Sales is coming to Charles Town Saturday to speak to the community and open up a dialogue on racism and injustice.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Coffee has always been a popular drink. It’s been a big trade item for hundreds of years and continues to be one of the leading beverages in the world. Coffee is so popular that many people don’t even care if it’s cheap or low quality; as long as they have that caffeine fix. But more and more people are searching for that higher quality coffee only found in the specialty shops.

Fæ / wikimedia Commons

Charles Town plans to acquire 10 acres surrounding city founder Charles Washington's home, Happy Retreat.

The Journal reports that City Council approved a contract this week with the Friends of Happy Retreat. Under the contract, the city will pay $350,000 for the land and the nonprofit will pay $425,000 for the house and the remaining 2.2 acres.

Friends of Happy Retreat president Walter Washington says the transaction will give the public ongoing access to the estate.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Bloomery Sweetshine Distillery located in Jefferson County has attracted around 50,000 tourists since it opened in 2011. While Jefferson County has been called the leader in tourism and economic impact in the state, some say the rural economy is struggling, and this distillery could be helping to revive it.

Harpers Ferry was the site of the US Armory, and played a vital role before and during the Civil War.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Harpers Ferry, John Brown, US Armory, Robert E. Lee, Civil War

Jefferson Co. Courthouse
Calvin Beale / U.S. Department of Agriculture

  American Public University System plans to open a business incubator in Charles Town.

The incubator will focus on information technology, sustainability and green businesses.

The Journal reports that American Public vice president of community relations John Hough provided details of the project on Monday to the Region 9 Planning and Development Council.

Hough says the incubator's clients will be eight to 10 startups led by veterans. But he says 

hollywoodcasinocharlestown.com

West Virginia's largest casino has announced plans to add a 1,200-seat concert venue as it seeks to fend off increased competition from casinos in Maryland.

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races said Monday that it will begin construction this month on the venue, which will be located on the casino floor and feature a box office and VIP area. Hollywood hopes to open the venue by the end of September. A name for the venue has not yet been selected.
 

flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com

As competition increases from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, West Virginia casinos are losing customers.
 
     And the lost revenue is poking a hole in the state's tax base and budget.