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MINUTES
WEST VIRGINIA
ARCHIVES AND HISTORY COMMISSION MEETING
FRIDAY, 4 JUNE 2010
WEST VIRGINIA INDEPENDENCE HALL
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA


Chairman Robert Conte called the meeting to order at 9:31 a.m. In addition to Dr. Conte, other voting members present were Becky Frye, Victor Greco, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting members absent were Jack Dickinson, Harold Forbes, Dr. Charles Hulse, Dr. Helene Jacobs, and Bill Richardson. Ex officio voting members present were Fredrick Armstrong and Dr. Bill Arnett. Ex officio non-voting members present were Joe Geiger, director of Archives and History, serving as secretary to the commission; Charles Morris, director, Museums Section; Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; and Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section. Ex officio non-voting member absent was Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of Culture and History. Also present were Historic Preservation staff members Pam Brooks and Erin Riebe.

Following introductions, Chairman Conte asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 29 January 2010. Mr. Armstrong recommended, on page 3, tenth line from the top, the addition of the words “transportation enhancement” before the word “grant.” He also recommended, on page 8, fifth line from the bottom, substitution of the word “restoration” for “preservation.” The last recommendation from Mr. Armstrong made reference to page 12, fifth line from the top, suggesting that quote marks be placed around the word “mountaintop.” A motion to approve the minutes with corrections was made by Dr. Ledbetter, with a second by Dr. Walker. Motion carried.

Dr. Conte then called for the next item on the agenda, the presentation of Charles Morris as Museums Section director to the commission for advise and consent consideration. Mr. Armstrong, at 9:45 a.m., made a motion that the voting members of the commission go into Executive Session for the purpose of discussion of the appointment of Mr. Morris, as it is a personnel issue, and according to state law, an Executive Session is required. Dr. Ledbetter seconded the motion. In response to an inquiry from Chairman Conte, Mr. Armstrong stated he did not believe the motion and second required a vote. Members came out of Executive Session at 10:25 a.m.

Mr. Armstrong made a motion that the Archives and History Commission consent to the appointment of Charles Morris to the position of Museums director with the understanding that the Code for this position will be implemented to allow for a state museums’ plan and to develop professional leadership, including standards and policies for national accreditation, to make the West Virginia state museum a model for other West Virginia museums, and that the director will incorporate progress on these issues in Museums section reports. A second to the motion was made by Dr. Walker. Motion carried.

Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. In addition to information provided in the monthly reports for January through April previously mailed to members (copy attached to official minutes), he reviewed work on the county records management and preservation program, including a grant awards ceremony and the failure of legislation intended to increase funds available for grants. He noted that the project to install 300 highway historical markers was nearing completion and that a new grant to erect 50 replacement markers would commence soon. He also discussed completion of a new on-line exhibit on the 1960 presidential campaign, noted workshop and lecture opportunities in the Archives and History Library, and informed commission members that the second annual Archives and History Showcase would be held on December 6, 2010. Several recent additions to the State Archives collections were noted, and Geiger mentioned that more than one thousand patrons had completed library registration forms since January 4. He also reviewed a number of speaking engagements about Archives and History with libraries, historical societies and other organizations. He closed by mentioning the participation of Archives and History in the first annual History Bowl and noting that staff is laying the groundwork for sesquicentennial projects.

In response to an inquiry by Mr. Armstrong concerning Project Access, Mr. Geiger stated they were waiting to see which records would be addressed as part of the RMPB Statewide Preservation Project before determining which records to digitize and place on-line for public access. He noted that deeds and wills are possibilities, though some county clerks have expressed concerns about potential loss of revenue. Mr. Armstrong asked about chancery records, which Mr. Geiger agreed should be considered. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question as to the next on-line exhibit, Mr. Geiger stated there would be an effort to create a Civil War exhibit to tie in with sesquicentennial activities. Mr. Armstrong then asked if plans were being made in regard to state government records. Mr. Geiger commented that he and staff were called in to consult with the Department of Administration and the governor’s chief of staff, Larry Puccio, regarding Archives’ recommendations for state records, and noted that some collections had been accessioned. Mr. Armstrong commented that the role of Archives is to collect records which have enduring value to the state, its history and its existence, and added he would like to see the commission go on record that it would give support to Archives to see that this happens. He asked Mr. Geiger if a resolution by the Archives and History Commission would help if it stated that Archives, on a quarterly basis, would initiate efforts with a particular government agency to see if that agency could transfer its older records that have an enduring historical value to the State Archives. Mr. Geiger’s response was that this is certainly something to think about as it ties in with county records and looking toward the future with regard to preservation of records.

Mr. Armstrong also expressed concern that many records generated by state agencies are now in electronic format and that Archives and History is not equipped or funded to handle electronic records management. Mr. Armstrong also noted the necessity of working with the Office of Technology and stated that Archives needs to create some type of planning document that can be reviewed by the commission so they can offer support. He did not believe a motion for support was necessary, as the Code spells out Archives’ responsibilities in regard to preserving historical records.

Chairman Conte then called upon Ms. Pierce for her presentation of the Historic Preservation report. Ms. Pierce referred to the report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes) and talked about educational activities, including staff contribution of articles for their newsletter. She also commented on the upcoming Civil War calendar and work on a Civil War publication. Ms. Pierce noted the completion of the GIS project, which resulted in the scanning of thousands of documents. Staff conducted orientation for Survey and Planning Grants recipients and worked on recommendations for development grant applications. A few inquires were received regarding Blair Mountain, which Ms. Riebe would address later in the meeting. She also noted the posting of The Past Matters Today, The West Virginia Statewide Historic Preservation Plan, 2009-2014 on the agency website. As a result of projects funded with stimulus money, more than one thousand Section 106 reviews were completed in the past four months. Several projects were mentioned, including staff attendance at public workshops on the new proposed access road to Coonskin Park, and meetings with staff at New River Gorge regarding their comprehensive general management plan, for which Historic Preservation provided comments. The office had received numerous inquiries regarding the status of Mount de Chantal. Ms. Pierce noted that while Historic Preservation does not have any real authority to impose restrictions on the property, the office did share information regarding grant and tax credit opportunities. She closed by advising members that the new Heritage Trail brochures, paid for with a grant received by Historic Preservation and Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, were available. Dr. Conte asked if three positions in the section were vacant, and Ms. Pierce responded there were currently two open. In response to a question from Mr. Greco concerning Mount de Chantal, Ms. Pierce noted that most of the inquiries were to see if Historic Preservation could do anything to save the property, and most were from alumni.

Chairman Conte then called upon Mr. Morris for his presentation of the Museums report. He referred to his report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes) and extended an invitation to commission members to attend museum exhibit openings. He mentioned a number of upcoming exhibits, including Landscapes of West Virginia, West Virginia state parks and forests, Marble King, Vivian Woofter, and two relating to the Homer Laughlin China Company. Staff is also working on the collections room, and seeking to meet concerns of the museum assessment program, such as storing like materials together. Mr. Morris concluded his report and asked for questions. Mr. Tenney inquired as to whether the state museum was seeking grant opportunities to provide funds to local museums and historical societies. Mr. Morris stated he believed such a program was more directly related to arts as opposed to the museum, but spoke of the commissioner looking into other revenue sources, and stated he would look into it. Mr. Tenney expressed his wish that the state museum would pursue ongoing grant opportunities.

In the absence of Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, no report was given on Culture and History activities.

Turning to Old Business, Ms. Riebe provided updates on National Register nominations previously reviewed by the commission (copy attached to official minutes). The two nominations approved at the last meeting have been listed, and Ms. Riebe conducted a number of site visits. Mr. Armstrong asked about the status of Blair Mountain and was informed it had been de-listed. Staff has responded to FOIA requests from a law firm and has been copied on replies by the Keeper to the public. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question, Ms. Riebe stated the nomination can be reprocessed if someone requests. Mr. Armstrong asked if the nomination would be reprocessed if the commission made that request, and he was informed that property owner research would have to be conducted again. Mr. Armstrong asked to defer discussion on Blair Mountain to Other Business, to which Chairman Conte agreed.

Chairman Conte next called for a report on the highway historical marker program. Responding to a motion passed by the commission at the January meeting requesting that the administration review the process for initiating rule-making for the marker program, Mr. Geiger informed commission members he had passed their request on to the commissioner, who was still reviewing the process and had not yet made a decision. Mr. Armstrong stated that under the Code, the director of Archives and History shall promulgate rules with the approval of the Archives and History Commission. He noted that the commission has approved rules in the past and should be able to request Archives and History to develop rules for the marker program. Dr. Conte determined to move continuation of the discussion on the highway historical marker program to Other Business.

Turning to New Business, Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations. Fort Marrow, Randolph County, nominated under Criterion A, Military, and Criterion D, Archeology, with period of significance being 1861-1862, was presented by Ms. Riebe. Following a question from Dr. Walker regarding shovel tests, Dr. Ledbetter moved for approval of the nomination, with Mr. Armstrong providing the required second. Motion carried.

Tucker County Bank Building, Tucker County, nominated under Criterion A, Commerce, with period of significance being 1903-1960, was presented by Michael Mills. Chairman Conte asked about first floor occupancy and was informed that it was currently occupied. Mr. Armstrong asked if the building had a basement and was informed that it did not. Mr. Tenney inquired if there is a historic district in Parsons and was informed there was not. Mr. Tenney moved for approval of the nomination, with Mr. Greco providing the required second. Motion carried.

Chairman Conte called upon Ms. Pierce for her presentation of the FY2011 State Development Grants (copy attached to official minutes). She reviewed materials that had been distributed to commission members, offered explanations for some of those materials, and noted that Historic Preservation was recommending more than $683,000 in grants be awarded. Mr. Armstrong asked about the actual dollar amount of the state appropriation, and Ms. Pierce stated it was more than $550,000. Mr. Armstrong asked which of last year’s grants was cancelled and was informed it was Barleywood. Mr. Armstrong asked if he is correct in his understanding that expenditures, including administration of preparation of the grants, prior to July 1 can not be used as a match. Ms. Pierce stated he is correct in his understanding. Mr. Armstrong noted that while, according to the Annual Work Plan, grants can go to both public and private entities, there is no way to identify one from the other, in particular those being recommended for full or partial funding. Ms. Pierce noted they can do that by providing the percentage, public being 58 percent and private being 42 percent. Dr. Hohn asked how the new criterion that had been added - community support - was working. Ms. Pierce noted the additional criterion is working well. A motion was made by Dr. Arnett to approve the FY2011 State Development Grants. Dr. Ledbetter seconded. Mr. Armstrong had a question about the first project, Wyco Community Church, for which partial funding is recommended, asking if it was in compliance with matching fund requirements. Ms. Pierce assured him the requirements would be met; otherwise it would not be funded. Motion carried.

Chairman Conte called on Mr. Tenney to present the Nominating Committee’s suggested slate of officers. Mr. Tenney reported that the committee recommendation is for the nomination of Dr. Robert Conte as chairperson and Dr. Charles Ledbetter as vice chairperson. Dr. Arnett moved to accept the recommendation of the committee and Dr. Walker seconded. Motion carried.

Chairman Conte advised members of the upcoming Fall meeting to be held on Friday, October 1, 2010, in Buckhannon, and the Winter meeting, to be held on Friday, February 4, 2011, tentatively at the Greenbrier. A tentative date of June 3, 2011, was set for the Spring 2011 meeting. Dr. Ledbetter proposed a resolution of appreciation to the Grecos for their hospitality to commission members. Dr. Arnett provided a second, and the resolution passed by voice.

Chairman Conte recessed the meeting for lunch at 11:50 a.m.; the meeting resumed at 12:28 p.m.

Resuming discussion on Blair Mountain, Mr. Armstrong commented that the commission has invested an enormous amount of time on the nomination. He asked if the staff has any inkling as to whether the number of property owners is close enough that it stands a chance of making it or is it more likely that there are a sufficient number of property owners opposed that the commission would just be using staff time and funding for naught. Ms. Pierce commented that it will take a lot of money to check the property owners but noted it is a pretty tight margin between those who favor and those who oppose. Ms. Riebe commented they could not speak to how many property owners there are now since it was last checked in 2008. In response to a question from Dr. Arnett, Ms. Pierce stated that a new list would have to be initiated and the previous list no longer applies. Ms. Riebe noted that all previous objections would be included in the count.

Dr. Ledbetter asked if there is any action expected from those who originated the proposal. Ms. Pierce noted that an inquiry had been made, but she was unsure at this time what the original supporters were going to do. Ms. Pierce also noted the nomination was unlikely to come before commission members again unless the integrity of the battlefield has changed substantially. Mr. Armstrong stated, and Ms. Pierce agreed, that the only way the integrity of the nomination could change would be by some physical act with the land mass. Ms. Pierce and Ms. Riebe both addressed the potential areas of cost and research.

Mr. Armstrong asked if members wanted to ask Ms. Pierce and staff to see what would be involved and added he thinks the commission should follow through with what they started. Dr. Arnett stated he agrees and thinks the commission should make a statement to the effect that they still believe they did the right thing and the decision should have stood, as the event, with regard to mining, labor and coal, was one of the more important in labor history in the country and the history of West Virginia. He would leave it in the hands of the staff to determine whether it is cost effective.

Mr. Tenney asked Ms. Pierce for clarification as to what the procedural error was and why the property was de-listed and was informed by Ms. Pierce that the reason the property was de-listed was that the count was not correct.

Mr. Armstrong made a motion recommending that Historic Preservation staff do that which it can and is necessary to reactivate the Blair Mountain nomination by resolving the problems that it encountered with the Keeper and for which it was de-listed. Dr. Ledbetter seconded. Following a recommendation from Dr. Hohn, Mr. Armstrong agreed to a revised motion recommending that a recount be done and the nomination be re-submitted. Dr. Ledbetter seconded the revised motion. Motion carried.

Resuming discussion on the highway historical marker program, Mr. Armstrong stated that at the last commission meeting, members had requested response to the rules process in activating it for the marker program. He added that, according to the Code, the commission can request that the Archives and History Section director draw up and present procedural rules for the implementation of the highway historical marker program, and, if required, legislative rules as well. He noted that, based upon what he read from the Code, procedural rules should be in order. However, no answer has yet been received, as earlier requested, as to whether or not a legislative rule is required.

Mr. Tenney noted that procedural rules would allow the commission to incorporate the changes made by the commission to the marker guidelines and also would clarify their authority regarding the program. Mr. Armstrong stated that procedural rules could not address the latter and that only legislative rules could do that. Mr. Armstrong suggested the commission go through the process of reinventing their guidelines as procedural rules for the marker program and filing them with the Secretary of State, rather than tweaking the guidelines and simply placing them online. He added that would place the commission in compliance with the process as he read from the Code. Mr. Geiger pointed out that the commission has the authority to approve rules, and can certainly request that they be created, but does not have the authority to order him to create them. A motion was made by Mr. Armstrong requesting that the Archives and History director develop procedural rules for the highway historical marker program and submit them to the Archives and History Commission for its approval and file with the Secretary of State’s office to put the program in that sector of compliance with the Code. After clarifying that the motion was to “request” this be done, a second was provided by Dr. Ledbetter. Motion carried.

Mr. Greco made a motion to adjourn. Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 1:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.,
Secretary


Archives and History Commission

West Virginia Archives and History