HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — It’s a process that many associates with the Civil War: states separating from each other to create or join new ones. It could be a possibility in western Maryland.
Allegany, Garrett and Washington Counties — the three westernmost counties of the state — are looking to move out of Maryland and into neighboring West Virginia. Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott says the request is a long time coming after many of his constituents have voiced their concern and desire to become part of the Mountain State.
“We don’t have what we need to have to have a successful western Maryland right now from the state of Maryland,” Parrott stated.
State representatives from the three counties sent a letter to the West Virginia State Senate asking them to consider adding the counties to the Mountain State. Senate President Craig Blair is on board with the proposal and would be open to starting a conversation.
“We would welcome them moving into western Virginia. We share so much commonality; those three counties and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia are a lot more in sync than what it is with Baltimore,” President Blair said.
He compared the sentiments voiced to him by the western counties of Maryland to the sentiments felt by West Virginians when they separated from Virginia during the Civil War. He explained that a common misconception of this secession lies in the belief that West Virginia did not agree with Virginia’s loyalties during the Civil War.
However, Blair says it was the lack of funding and attention given to the western part of Virginia that caused the separation. He believes that many western counties in Maryland foster the same sentiments towards the major metropolitan areas in the eastern part of the state.
The process of moving these three counties would require a bill requesting the move that is proposed and passed by the receiving state of western Virginia and a similar bill proposed in the Maryland State Legislature. The move would then need to be approved by both states. But Washington County Delegate Neil Parrott isn’t holding his breath.
“It is doubtful that the state of Maryland would allow us to leave because we have a lot of resources here and they don’t want to see us go,” Del. Parrott said. “But it would be beneficial to this area to be in West Virginia or for Maryland to pay more attention to western Maryland like they need to do.”
This move would likely need approval by Congress in order to actually make Allegany, Garrett, and Washington counties part of West Virginia. The issue could also be a potential referendum topic during an election if the request progresses through the respective legislatures.