Chairman Robert Conte called the meeting to order at 9:33 a.m. In addition to Dr. Conte, other voting members present were Harold Forbes, Victor Greco, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting members absent were Rebecca Frye, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, and Bill Richardson. Ex officio voting member present was Fredrick Armstrong. Ex officio voting member absent was Dr. Bill Arnett. Ex officio non-voting members present were Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; Charles Morris, director, Museums Section; and Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section, serving as secretary to the commission in the absence of Joe Geiger. Ex officio non-voting members absent were Jeremy Morris, president of Preservation Alliance of West Virginia; Joe Geiger, director of Archives and History; and 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 27 September 2013. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Mr. Forbes, with a second by Mr. Greco. Mr. Tenney requested that the minutes be amended to reflect that he was not present at the September meeting in Wheeling. The minutes, as amended, were approved.
In the absence of Mr. Geiger, there was no Archives and History report, although commission members had been mailed monthly reports for August through December 2013 (copies attached to official minutes). Ms. Pierce reminded commission members that History Day would be held on February 13.
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 provided a summary of activities based upon this report. Notably, the End of Year Report for Fiscal Year 2013 was submitted to the National Park Service for approval. The Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Grant Application was also sent to the National Park Service, specifically for the first portion of the annual grant based upon the continuation legislation passed by Congress. Ms. Pierce also made mention of the development grant work completed, the publication of the Historic Recreation 2014 Calendar, Section 106 reviews, sub grant administration, and tax credit requests at the end of the year. Mr. Armstrong asked Ms. Pierce if the office was fully staffed and she replied affirmatively. In response to his question about the Hurricane Sandy grant, she explained that the application was being reviewed by HP staff. He requested a copy of program descriptions of the survey and planning grant activities and also requested that he be notified in advance of any panel meeting as he would not depend on the Secretary of State’s website. Mr. Armstrong requested the exact number of active Certified Local Governments; Ms. Pierce provided the number as 22 upon communication with staff in the office. Mr. Armstrong also questioned Ms. Pierce for her statement regarding tax credit activity as it did not correspond with the written report; Ms. Pierce responded that the figures provided in the written report did not reflect January statistics although her oral presentation referenced activity in that month.
Chairman Conte then called upon Charles Morris for the Museums report (copy attached to official minutes). Mr. Morris provided a summary of activities, events, and exhibits, including the ongoing structural alterations at Grave Creek Mound Archaeology Complex, the Juried Art Exhibit opening, and the Cameo Glass exhibit donated by Dr. Joseph Touma and his wife Omayma of Huntington. Mr. Armstrong asked for further explanation regarding the leak at the Culture Center and the associated bid process. Mr. Morris explained the current status and clarified locations of the leaks to be on the Library Commission side of the building as well as in the collections area. The use of a sump pump and drains were discussed. Mr. Armstrong asked about the genesis of the glass exhibit, noting that it had not been discussed at the last meeting. He also queried Mr. Morris regarding the museum upgrade Request for Proposal and questioned why Mr. Morris as the museum director was not familiar with what appeared to be a project created by the administration. Mr. Morris indicated that he would provide an update for the entire project.
Mr. Tenney suggested that the Museums Section should provide more outreach to smaller museums in the state and asked if any progress had been made on any kind of grant program for museums. Mr. Morris replied that this was a part of the annual budget request, and he directed Mr. Tenney’s attention to the educational and computer assistance provided to other museums. Staff had recently assisted in a museum’s collection cataloging and was always available for assistance. Mr. Armstrong asked about staffing in the Museums Section and Mr. Morris indicated that the education staff was complete but that additional staff could not be hired during the existing freeze which would likely end July 1.
Mr. Armstrong asked about the status of the budget hearings, and Ms. Pierce replied that the Senate hearing occurred the previous day (January 30) and the House hearing the previous week. Mr. Armstrong asked about budget cuts. Ms. Pierce replied it was her understanding that Arts and Historic Preservation had received significant cuts but upon further questioning from Mr. Armstrong stated she could not provide information regarding general revenue. Mr. Morris indicated that the Cameo Glass exhibit was planned and installed entirely by agency staff.
Dr. Hohn shared his experience within his agency, stating that the cuts are addressing programs in order to avoid staff layoffs. Mr. Armstrong asked if funding for the museum upgrade was as important as other programs.
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). She informed the commission that Whitesville School and Fort Mill Ridge had been listed since the previous meeting. Potomac Mills had been submitted to the National Park Service at a later date; therefore, she was still waiting to hear about that nomination.
Turning to New Business, Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations.
Beverly Historic District, Randolph County, nominated under Criterion A, Commerce, Exploration/Settlement, Military, Politics/Government, and Transportation, and under Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being 1768-1959, was presented by Courtney Fint Zimmerman of Aurora Research Associates representing the Beverly Historic Landmark Commission. Ms. Zimmerman explained that the current nomination proposes a revised, enlarged boundary and an amendment to the original nomination. She referred to the map which showed the original boundary and the two extended areas to be added to the north and southeast. The period of significance was revised from 1753-1920, an arbitrary cut off, to the current proposed period of 1768-1959. She listed the areas of significance, addressed the changes to the number of contributing and non-contributing resources within the district, and briefly discussed the various architectural styles and buildings within the district. Following the overview of the revisions to the original nomination, Mr. Forbes suggested changes to address possible questions that may arise from outside. He asked for justification of the use of the 1768 date for the beginning of the period of significance. He thought it curious that the nomination discussed the placement of farm implements on the public square. He also requested the use of Stonewall Jackson’s entire name and stated that Jackson’s sister deserved mention in the nomination. Mr. Armstrong suggested that the nomination required invigoration and should reflect today’s writing style. The history section required a sweeping overhaul. Mr. Tenney recommended that post-1980 research efforts should be reflected and that the nomination include mention of recovery efforts in Beverly. Dr. Walker proposed the use of a series of maps to show the progression of change and growth of the town. Mr. Armstrong questioned the evaluation of contributing and non-contributing buildings and the limited information provided to distinguish resources. Ms. Riebe responded that the National Park Service does not require this level of detail. Phyllis Baxter of the Beverly Historic Landmark Commission shared that her commission will collect information and make it accessible. Mr. Tenney discussed the moved Stalnaker House (Resource #82) and its possible individual listing. Mr. Forbes again requested clarification of the significance of Stonewall Jackson, his sister and brother-in-law and suggested consistency between the three historical summaries found on pages 12, 46, and 53. He also identified the proper reference to the Restored Government of Virginia and suggested editing of text on page 52. Dr. Walker requested further explanation of the end date of the period of significance. Both she and Dr. Hohn requested that the document make explicit the reason for the expansion. Mr. Armstrong suggested the rewriting of the history section to reflect analysis that has occurred since the 1980 nomination. The bibliography needs expansion. Mr. Armstrong questioned the similarity of resources #26 and #28. Mr. Forbes stated that the nomination was a major step forward, but it was not quite ready yet. Dr. Hohn suggested using original sources and new scholarship. The nomination should justify the expansion of the boundary. He had trouble reading the boundary on the overview map but found the sub maps clearer. Mr. Armstrong moved for the tabling of the nomination for revisions that would reflect the suggestions shared during the discussion. Dr. Walker provided the second. Motion carried.
Bethel Presbyterian Church, Wood County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, and Criteria Consideration A, Religious Properties, with period of significance being 1904, was presented by Erin Riebe. After her presentation, Mr. Forbes identified a structure at the parking lot and suggested it be mentioned. He also noted chimneys and questioned their presence within the interior; the units within are gone. Dr. Hohn suggested clarification on page five, and Mr. Armstrong and Dr. Walker questioned the use of the word “simple.” Mr. Greco moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Tenney provided the second. Motion carried.
Ms. Pierce presented the FY2013 Survey and Planning Grant applications. She referred to the grants spreadsheet and individual summary sheets, noting that this year the office did not receive applications for all possible categories of grant activities. The office did not receive applications for National Register nominations and Comprehensive Planning activities; therefore, the funding percentages from the annual work program were not applicable. On January 8, 2014, the office hosted an outside panel made up of Sara Prior, Alison Thornton, and Tim Sedosky to review, score and rank the grant applications. The panel also determined the proposed funding amounts. In the absence of Dr. Conte, this panel was moderated by Ms. Pierce. Their recommendations were summarized and provided to the commission in advance. Ms. Pierce explained that the grants were advertised a second time due to the lack of applications in the initial round to fully use the available funding. There were 8 applications submitted in the first round. Mr. Armstrong questioned the availability of evaluation and selection criteria. Ms. Pierce and Pam Brooks both explained that the press releases referred to the criteria for evaluation and identified the grants as available to Certified Local Governments. Dr. Hohn shared that, from his personal experience of evaluating broadband grants, the past experience of grant recipients is important to the avoidance of failure. Mr. Forbes moved to approve the staff recommendations for the FY2014 Survey and Planning Grants. The motion was seconded by Dr. Walker. The motion carried, with Mr. Greco abstaining.
Chairman Conte appointed Dr. Walker and Mr. Greco to serve on the Nominating Committee, which will present the suggested slate of officers (Chair and Vice Chair) at the Spring meeting.
Chairman Conte noted that the Spring meeting is scheduled to be held in Lewisburg on May 30, with June 6 as a backup date. The Fall meeting will be held in Huntington on September 25 in conjunction with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia conference, with October 3 as a backup date.
Mr. Greco made a motion to adjourn and Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 1:19 p. m.
Susan M. Pierce
Archives and History Commission