Chairman Robert Conte called the meeting to order at 9:31 a.m. In addition to Dr. Conte, other voting members present were Harold Forbes, Rebecca Frye, Victor Greco, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting member absent was 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; and Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section; ex officio non-voting members absent were Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; Charles Morris, director, Museums Section; Jeremy Morris, president of Preservation Alliance; and Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of Culture and History. Also present were Historic Preservation staff members John Adamik, Pam Brooks, and Erin Riebe.
Following introductions, Chairman Conte noted he had prepared a letter to the governor in response to a commission resolution and would review this under Old Business. He then asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 1 March 2013. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Dr. Walker, with a second by Dr. Ledbetter. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. Mr. Geiger referred members to information provided in the monthly reports January through April 2013 (copy attached to official minutes) and reported continued success with library programming, including a recent lecture by Dr. Ledbetter. He informed commission members that a new exhibit was on display in the Archives and History Library, which received a recent front-page article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. He related that processing of the Jennings Randolph speeches and press releases had been completed, with a folder listing finding aid now available on-line for the speeches, constituent correspondence, and photographs. Geiger also noted the recent donation of architectural drawings by the state’s first black architect, John C. Norman, and stated they would be placed on-line in the next few months. He also mentioned the success of History Bowl and continued efforts to collaborate with teachers and students. He closed by noting the continuation of the statewide preservation projects for deeds as part of the work of the Records Management and Preservation Board, and work with state agencies on their retention schedules and authorization to destroy records requests.
Mr. Armstrong asked if any legislation had passed relating to records management, and Mr. Geiger responded that legislation had passed which permitted the Legislature to set its own rules and also more clearly defined state records. Mr. Armstrong asked if there were plans for more exhibits in the library, and Mr. Geiger informed him that rotating exhibits were planned for four of the library tables, but it was hoped that no new exhibits requiring the use of the majority of the tables in the library would take place in the near future.
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 reviewed various SHPO activities. She noted two vacancies in her section and reviewed staff involvement in educational endeavors, presentations, and conferences. Three realtor workshops were held in May in Martinsburg, Wheeling, and Elkins, and they were well-attended. Ms. Pierce observed that review and compliance activities continued, and staff was also working on activities relating to the Capitol grounds. She noted that legislation to cut the state tax credit had been proposed during the legislation session but had failed. Ms. Pierce also stated she had provided members with the SHPO annual report, and she noted that John Adamik had completed eleven public meetings to solicit comments on the SHPO statewide comprehensive five-year plan, including one held the previous evening in Elkins. Chairman Conte asked about the previous night’s meeting, and Ms. Pierce stated it was well-attended, with good input offered by those in attendance. Chairman Conte asked if there had been a response from the realtors regarding those workshops, and Ms. Pierce replied that they were thrilled that a new opportunity for continuing education was being offered. Mr. Tenney asked if all counties had representatives at the realtor workshops, and Ms. Pierce responded that while not all counties had representatives, other workshops could be held through Certified Local Governments to offer more opportunities. Mr. Greco mentioned that bankers and attorneys needed to be involved in the workshops since their work relates to tax credits. Chairman Conte asked about the status of Holly Grove and was informed that the building had been stabilized several years ago, and plans are gearing up for its further rehabilitation. Mr. Armstrong asked about Building 3 and was informed by Ms. Pierce that to her knowledge no action was currently being taken. Mr. Armstrong asked about the Mount Hope Historic District, and Ms. Pierce responded that Shirley Stewart-Burns was dealing with blighted buildings and creating Memoranda of Agreement to mitigate losses.
In the absence of Charles Morris, no report was given on Museums activities, but a written report was distributed (copy attached to official minutes).
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 noted that the Buffington Island nomination was sent by Ohio SHPO to the National Park Service, where it was determined eligible, but it was not listed due to owner objections. All three nominations approved at the last meeting were listed on May 8.
Chairman Conte distributed a draft letter to Governor Tomblin concerning commission vacancies and expired terms. He stated that members could sign the second page, which would be attached to the revised letter and submitted with it. Mr. Tenney asked if other commissions had similar problems getting appointments, and Mr. Armstrong stated he believed they were not the only commission to have this problem. Mr. Forbes and Dr. Walker made several suggestions to the draft letter, and it was determined that the suggestions of commission members would be incorporated and distributed to commission members for review so that the completed letter, along with the signatures of commission members, could be sent to the governor.
Turning to New Business, Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations.
Mount Woods Cemetery, Ohio County, nominated under Criterion C, Landscape Architecture and Art; Criteria Consideration A, Religious Properties; and Criteria Consideration D, Cemeteries, with period of significance being 1831-c. 1950, was presented by Rebekah Karelis. Before the presentation, Ms. Riebe read an e-mail from the Jewish synagogue expressing support for the nomination. Following the presentation, Dr. Walker stated that she supported the nomination, which was well-written, but had a difficult time figuring out the maps. Ms. Karelis and Ms. Riebe stated they would work on this issue. Mr. Greco observed that tremendous local support had developed for the project, and Ms. Karelis noted that the city of Wheeling now officially owns the property. Dr. Walker asked if the cemetery could be opened up to new occupants, and Ms. Karelis noted this was possible but improbable due to the steep slope. Dr. Ledbetter offered a correction to the narrative concerning the number of gates to the Jewish section of the cemetery. Dr. Walker moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Armstrong provided the second. Motion carried.
New River Gorge Bridge, Fayette County, nominated under Criterion A, Transportation (local); Criterion C, Engineering (national); and Criteria Consideration G, Properties that Have Achieved Significance Within the Past Fifty Years, with period of significance being 1977-c. 1985, was presented by Erin Riebe. Before proceeding with the nomination, Ms. Riebe introduced Ami Dangerfield, who read a letter of support from the Fayette County Commission. Chairman Conte asked why the nomination was being done at this time, and Ms. Pierce replied that it was being done as part of the sesquicentennial activities and that Ms. Riebe had done an excellent job in a short period of time. Mr. Tenney asked if this was the first exception to the fifty-year rule for nominations and was informed that a few others had been done. Mr. Armstrong asked about the sources used for the nomination and was informed by Ms. Riebe that she would check what the guidelines required. Dr. Arnett moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Forbes provided the second. Motion carried.
Before presenting the 2014 State Development grants, Ms. Pierce provided an overview of the grant process, noting that at the request of the commissioner, a non-staff panel had reviewed the grants. She noted that new scoring sheets and staff comment sheets had been developed professionally and thoroughly by Pam Brooks. Only one applicant was deemed ineligible, due to the fact they were a religious organization. Dr. Hohn participated as a member of the panel at a meeting where scores were calculated and applications ranked and recommended. Ms. Pierce stated that the panel had recommended more than what had been allocated in the state budget, but there is a possibility that SHPO will receive supplemental funds. Mr. Tenney asked what prompted the commissioner to go in this direction, and Ms. Pierce replied that he wanted to remove staff from scrutiny and to provide them protection from criticism. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question, Ms. Pierce stated the decision to have a non-staff panel was made in March. Mr. Armstrong inquired as to how involved arts commission members are in their grants process. Ms. Pierce stated she attended one panel, and the commission member who served as chair did not vote or score. Mr. Greco asked by how much the recommendations exceed the budgeted amount and was informed the difference was about $30,000. Mr. Greco inquired as to when they will know if they will have additional funds, and Ms. Pierce stated she was not sure. Mr. Greco moved to approve the staff recommendations for the FY2014 State Development Grants with the provision authorizing staff to move funds from cancelled projects or projects unable to use all available funding to the next project in order of priority or to increase funding to an approved project needing additional funds. The motion was seconded by Dr. Ledbetter. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte called on Mr. Forbes and Dr. Walker to give the Nominating Committee report on a suggested slate of officers (Chair and Vice Chair). Mr. Forbes reported that the committee’s recommendation is for the nomination of Dr. Robert Conte as chairperson and Dr. Charles Ledbetter as vice chairperson. Mr. Tenney moved to accept the recommendation of the committee and Dr. Arnett seconded. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte noted that the Fall meeting is scheduled to be held in Wheeling on September 27, with October 4 as a backup date, and the Winter meeting is scheduled for January 31 in Fairmont with a backup date of February 7.
Mr. Armstrong made a motion to adjourn and Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 11:18 a.m.
Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Archives and History Commission