Trump ‘reminder’ stirs up history, skeptics

CHARLESTON — A reminder to neighboring Frederick County, Va., that it could join the state of West Virginia got a lot of love in Charleston Monday.

Not so much here and in Winchester.

“I have zero interest in becoming part of West Virginia,” said Frederick County Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr.

He was reacting to a resolution that passed the West Virginia State Senate on a voice vote that reminded Frederick County that it had a legal and open invitation to become the Mountain State’s 56th county.

The resolution, which now goes to the House of Delegates, was introduced by state Sen. Charles Trump of Berkeley Springs, whose 15th District includes all of Hampshire County. Just as importantly, 3 of the counties in his district — Hampshire, Morgan and Berkeley — along with Jefferson and Hardy border Frederick County.

“We share common values,” Trump said Monday. “Frederick County’s residents have so much in common with West Virginia that our separation has never made sense.”

During the Civil War when West Virginia was created, part of the legal machinations was for a “restored” government of Virginia — based in Wheeling after the Richmond government joined the Confederacy — gave permissions for counties to form a new state.

The counties that formed the new 35th state did not originally include Berkeley, Jefferson or Frederick counties, but the invitation was extended to them to do so.

After the war, when Jefferson and Berkeley counties joined West Virginia, Virginia took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of West Virginia in 1870, complete with authorizing the invitation.

“Once I learned that, it seemed obvious to me,” Trump said. “Where I live, people have family and work ties with Winchester and Frederick County all the time. People are back and forth. That boundary exists more or less on paper, but it doesn’t impede the flow of everything back and forth.”

Adding Frederick County would be a boon for West Virginia with its commercial hub and prosperity.

Shifting states would give Frederick County more clout in West Virginia than it has in Virginia.

Trump pointed out that the county would be the state’s 2nd biggest, behind Kanawha, and it would be entitled to 6 delegates and 2 state senators from the start.

This week’s reminder points out that Frederick County has the legal right to vote on joining West Virginia.

“While I love the romantic language in which West Virginia Senator Trump couches the invitation, it is very hard to imagine that the citizenry of Frederick County are looking for that upheaval,” Del. Wendy Gooditis, whose 10th District in Virginia’s House of Delegates includes part of Frederick County, told the Winchester Star.

Trump made the pitch this way:

“The invitation extended to Frederick County in 1862 to join the new State of West Virginia still stands,” he said. “If the citizens of Frederick County should decide that they would like to join the new state, West Virginia would welcome them with open arms.”

Maybe, maybe not, judging by the chatter on Facebook Monday.

“A waste of time, effort and taxpayer money,” groused Wes Palmer of Purgitsville.

“Never gonna happen,” added Ciro Grassi of Capon Bridge.

Joyce Lockhart of Augusta wasn’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat.

“I was born and raised here,” she posted on the Review’s Facebook page. “I appreciate what West Virginia is, but those born and raised in Virginia would not. Best to leave it alone.”

Lisa Boward of Augusta questioned why Frederick County would have any interest in switching.

“Were they getting tired of decent teachers’ salaries and well kept roads?” she asked.

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