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Berkeley County donates cruiser to McDowell County town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A struggling town in McDowell County has gotten help from another 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 Ken Lemaster presented the 2006 cruiser to Gary Police Chief S.P. McKinney during a ceremony Friday, news 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."

Sen. Joe Manchin's office had asked Lemaster if he had any available vehicles after Manchin, D-W.Va., learned of Gary's plight. Lemaster agreed to help and presented the request to the County Council, which approved transferring the cruiser to Gary.

McKinney said Gary's population, which is about 400, has 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.


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