Chairman Bob Conte called the meeting to order at 9:45 a.m. In addition to Dr. Conte, other voting members present were Harold Forbes, Becky Frye, Victor Greco, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Bill Richardson, Amy Haden Sorrells, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting members absent were Dr. Charles Hulse and Dr. Helene Jacobs. Ex officio voting members present were Dr. Bill Arnett, president, West Virginia Historical Association, and Fredrick Armstrong, president, West Virginia Historical Society. Ex officio non-voting members present were Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; Joe Geiger, director of Archives and History, serving as secretary to the commission; Adam Hodges, director, Museums Section; and Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section. Ex officio non-voting member absent was Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of Culture and History. Culture and History staff members present were Erin Riebe and Pam Brooks, Historic Preservation, and Joyce Jones, Administration.
Chairman Conte called upon Fredrick Armstrong to make a quick statement regarding the difference between the West Virginia Historical Association and the West Virginia Historical Society, after which he entertained a motion to approve the 3 October 2008 meeting minutes. Joe Geiger interjected that he would like to first note a number of corrections to the minutes and the need for some clarification pointed out by Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Pierce that were corrected in the draft of the minutes. A motion to approve the minutes with corrections was made by Dr. Arnett with a second by Mr. Greco. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte called upon Adam Hodges, who, in the absence of Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, asked the commission to consider the appointment of Joe Geiger as the new director of the Archives and History Section of the Division of Culture and History. He provided members with a brief background of Mr. Geiger. Fredrick Armstrong addressed Chairman Conte, noting that for the sake of pending discussion, he would like to make a motion that the Archives and History Commission members consent to the appointment of Mr. Geiger to that position as made by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith. A second was provided by Bill Arnett. Following his remarks of support for Mr. Geiger, Mr. Armstrong asked Mr. Geiger several questions. In reply to a question if he was officially interviewed for the position, Mr. Geiger responded that he was offered the position. He replied in the negative to Mr. Armstrong’s question whether he was among those called in for an interview in response to the agency’s advertisement for the position. Mr. Geiger responded at length to questions about planning for the preservation needs of State Archives documents and records and current space constraints, noting his push at some point for additional space either through another building or the creation of a separate facility that might tie in with county records management. Space problems have been pointed out to the commissioner, as well as to the secretary of Education and the Arts and legislators. In response to a question from Mr. Armstrong as to whether he feels he has the confident support of the commissioner to make this happen, Mr. Geiger stated he feels that the commissioner is now aware of the fact that Archives is out of space, but, due to the present economic situation, it will be difficult to get the legislature and/or the governor, or anyone else who has the power to make it happen, on board. There being no further comments or questions, Chairman Conte called for a vote on the question to approve Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith’s appointment of Joe Geiger to fill the position of Director of Archives and History. Motion carried.
At the request of the Chairman Conte, Mr. Geiger presented his Archives and History report. He referred members to their previously mailed packets which contained monthly reports for September through December 2008 (copies attached to official minutes). In addition to highlighting a few activities covered in the reports, he noted that chairs in the library have been reupholstered and bids are being received to replace the window blinds and carpeting. The processing of Senator Robert Holliday papers has raised the concern of pursuing the collections of those still living, particularly the legislators, and the need for determining some guidelines on how to handle these, as some are marked “Personal, please don’t share.” A ceremony with the Secretary of State’s office was held concerning the donation of the first minute books relating to the Board of Public Works. He noted that Mr. Armstrong was involved with former Secretary Ireland in getting a lot of those books, as well as a number of other materials from the Secretary of State’s office.
Mr. Geiger updated commission members on the status of Records Management and Preservation Board grant requests, the vital records database, proofing of Veterans Memorial names and the highway historical markers refurbishment project. He noted that staff will be meeting with the Office of Technology concerning replacement of three servers, drawing up specifications at a cost of approximately $50,000 - $60,000, and that the annual Hoot Owl event is scheduled for April 24 – 25. Mr. Geiger concluded by reporting on Archives staff assistance to other sections of the Division of Culture and History and to other state agencies. Following a few questions, comments, and discussion by some of the members with regard to Mr. Geiger’s report, Chairman Conte called upon Susan Pierce for the Historic Preservation report.
Ms. Pierce highlighted a few activities that have taken place over the last few months, noting that she had provided members with a copy of her report (copy attached to official minutes). With regard to the federal budget for FY 2009, no information has been received as yet. Staff is continuing based upon a continuing resolution, which means Historic Preservation is good until March. She advised members that Erin Riebe has been working with the Attorney General’s office with respect to the Blair Mountain property ownership and the nomination was resubmitted to the Keeper about a week ago.
She also informed members that Senator Snyder, Jefferson County, has expressed interest in introducing a bill this session that would amend language to involve the Historic Preservation office in county level projects that impact National Register resources. Historic Preservation has entered into a contract with a data entry consulting firm that is scanning the archaeological reports. They will be scheduling in the next week to work on the architectural surveys and inventories in the office. Staff has been working with Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, Deputy Commissioner Jacqueline Proctor, Museums Director Adam Hodges, and Scott Speedy, director, Archaeology Resource Center, Grave Creek, regarding questions from the public about the Buffalo remains.
Harold Forbes asked about the theater trail grants, noting he was disappointed there were only two on the list, and asked if there were other inquiries. Ms. Pierce replied that no others applied and that the next deadline is March 15. Fredrick Armstrong asked if there was any follow up to see if applicants had made changes. Ms. Pierce stated that letters had been sent, but no one responded. Mr. Armstrong also spoke about the Buffalo remains and asked if Historic Preservation has sufficient staff and expertise and funds to handle the project. Ms. Pierce referred that to Museums Director Adam Hodges, noting it is under the Museums Section because it is a collection. Mr. Hodges responded that his curators have assured him that they can meet the NAGPRA timeline, and he discussed the process that will be followed to notify and involve relevant tribes. Susan Pierce explained necessary steps under the NAGPRA Code. Adam Hodges noted that Joyce Jones, Culture and History staff, is present at the meeting today so she can meet with curators and discuss what needs to happen to apply for one of the federal grants through NAGPRA that would provide another archaeologist to assist with work. In response to questions from Mr. Armstrong about the timeframe for the federal grant process, Mr. Hodges stated that it seems to be a very quick turnaround, and Mrs. Jones stated the deadline for the NAGPRA grant is March 15, with funds available in the fall. Discussion continued with Mr. Armstrong asking additional questions about the possible need for scientific research to make determinations and about signature authority to sign off on the agreements as to which tribe, etc., with Ms. Pierce stating the commissioner would have signature authority. There being no further questions or discussion, Chairman Conte called upon Adam Hodges for the Museums section report.
Mr. Hodges made reference to his report (copy attached to official minutes) then informed members of some recently developed exhibits there at the facility, legislative art, new staff, and historic sites and museums. He spoke to the expectation of an increased number of visitors at West Virginia Independence Hall due to the upcoming sesquicentennial.
Harold Forbes asked how Camp Washington-Carver fits into the group of historic museums. Mr. Hodges discussed the property, then invited the input of Fred Armstrong, who explained the site was awarded to the agency in 1979 and language in the West Virginia Code states that it is to perpetuate the African-American history associated with Camp Washington-Carver and its purposes. Following more questions and discussion with regard to the legislative funding a year or two ago for the battle flag exhibit at WVIH and the provisions for the artifacts, large hangings and portraits on the second floor, as well as the status of the collections at the Jenkins Plantation, Mr. Armstrong asked about the status of the Museum and what is going to be done with regard to the collections and making this information available on the division’s website. Mr. Hodges noted there currently is no one to do that type of work and even if there were, having time to do it would be a problem, due to the large amount of work connected to the State Museum project.
In the commissioner’s absence, Adam Hodges also presented the divisional and West Virginia State Museum report. Mr. Hodges reported on the Collegiate Series of performances and lectures, Joyful Night in December, a Fall Festival at WVIH, and the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Dedication of the West Virginia State Museum is scheduled for Saturday, June 20, West Virginia Statehood Day, and agency staff is busy with many aspects of the project. In reply to Fredrick Armstrong, Mr. Hodges stated there is no budget information in the report, but he would be glad to address that with the commissioner and ask him to respond. Mr. Armstrong asked if any of the three sections’ improvement level packages mentioned in the 16 May 2008 minutes had been submitted, and Susan Pierce, Adam Hodges, and Joe Geiger each responded regarding his or her section, with all three indicating that was what was submitted in September. Mr. Armstrong stated that according to the Code, the Archives and History Commission is supposed to know this type of thing and can not have oversight if they do not know what the sections’ money availability or staffing is. Discussion continued on the subject using the example of Historic Preservation development grants, with Mr. Armstrong noting the apparent absence of consultation with the commission. Susan Pierce suggested that, due to the fact that there are several individuals present for the National Register nominations, the meeting move on to that portion of the agenda. Amy Haden Sorrells made a motion to alter the agenda so that the National Register nominations could be considered. Mr. Armstrong seconded the motion, which passed by acclamation. The Chairman then declared a recess at 11:54 a.m. and the meeting was called back into order at 12:08 p.m.
Chairman Conte called for New Business and Susan Pierce distributed voting sheets to members (copies attached to official minutes). Chairman Conte informed members that there would be three National Register nominations, two of which would be presented by David Taylor. Mr. Taylor presented the first nomination, William E. Wells House, Hancock County, under Criterion B for significant person, William E. Wells, and Criterion C for architecture, with the period of significance being 1907-1931, 1935. Following discussion about photographs and removal of the porch, Charles Ledbetter moved for approval of the nomination. Joan Walker provided the required second in Kip Stowell’s memory, stating “Kip would find this to be an exquisite, elegant celebration of these peoples’ lives in a magnificent house.” Motion carried.
The second nomination, Town of Bath Historic District, Morgan County, was presented by Mr. Taylor, who acknowledged four representatives present from the Town of Bath and noted this was a project that began with a CLG funded survey. The nomination was presented under Criterion A for commerce and Criterion C for architecture, with the period of significance being 1776–1959. Following discussion about the comment cover sheet and the number of photographs, a motion to approve the nomination was made by Ms. Haden Sorrells and seconded by Dr. Arnett. Ms. Haden Sorrells asked Mr. Taylor to explain how the boundary lines were determined, and he explained the use of a combination of resources and topography, adding that things that are non-contributing need to be excluded as much as possible, with Ms. Riebe interjecting that boundaries are drawn based upon historic significance. Bill Arnett asked about the Ice House, which is an Art Center, and Betty Lou Harmison, one of the representatives, spoke about the various activities it provides for the community. There being no further questions or comments, Chairman Conte called for a vote on the motion to approve the nomination. Motion carried.
The third and final nomination, the Freeman Estate, Cabell County, prepared by the property owners, was presented by Ms. Riebe under Criterion B for industry and its association with Charles H. Freeman and Criterion C for architecture, with the period of significance being 1914-1920. She noted two contributing resources on the property, the stone wall and the cobblestone road. Harold Forbes asked about a reference to Park Hill Farm, and Ms. Riebe explained that Park Hill Farm is the name that the current property owners gave to the property. Mr. Forbes also inquired about use of the blueprints to verify the integrity of various features. Ms. Riebe discussed features that are gone, noting the estate retains sufficient integrity to be eligible to be listed at the local level. Fredrick Armstrong noted agricultural references, to which Ms. Riebe stated that the only remaining resource associated as an agricultural property, the barn, has no integrity. She further stated she included the cobblestone path because the reviewer at the NPS suggested she do so, and she noted the impact of the Argabrite House nomination’s return on her decision. A motion to approve the nomination was made by Mr. Richardson and seconded by Dr. Walker. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte declared a recess at 12:53 p.m. for lunch and reconvened the meeting at 1:42 p.m., after which time he advised members there would be no Capitol Building Commission report. Susan Pierce shared information with regard to the CBC and the activities associated with Building 3. In response to Fredrick Armstrong, Ms. Pierce stated it is her understanding that the Department of Administration wants the State Historic Preservation Office staff involved as well as the CBC, but to what extent she could not say.
Chairman Conte asked Adam Hodges if the commissioner had given him any information on the status of Archives and History Commission appointments, to which Hodges responded that he had no update. Chairman Conte noted that ten of the thirteen members’ terms will expire at the end of June, plus the two ongoing vacancies and the situation concerning member Dr. Chuck Hulse. Fredrick Armstrong asked if the three section directors have been asked to provide potential nominees for the positions and, in reply to Chairman Conte, he explained this is the way it had been done in the past and maybe they could find out if that part had been done. Victor Greco commented that he felt it would be appropriate, as his term is going to expire in June, for commission members to know where they stand and felt that if Adam Hodges could make it a point to relay this to the commissioner to make this a priority he would appreciate it.
Chairman Conte called upon Erin Riebe to provide an update on previous National Register nominations. She provided a copy to members (copy attached to official minutes) and updated commission members on nominations from the last four meetings. In reporting on those from the Winter 2008 meeting, Ms. Riebe noted that the Blair Mountain nomination was withdrawn from consideration in July for a slight boundary change and the office had to re-notify property owners and re-conduct the research. Following that, it was forwarded back to the Keeper on January 13. From the Fall meeting, in addition to five other properties, the Henry Gassaway Davis House was listed in December, but with exceptions, under Criterion C, rather than under Criterion B for Davis. Returned by the Keeper was the Argabrite House, mentioned earlier, for the addition of the outbuilding and the chicken coop. As there were no questions with regard to Ms. Riebe’s update on NR nominations, Chairman Conte called upon Susan Pierce for the report on Survey and Planning Grants.
Before presenting her report, Ms. Pierce stated the commissioner had called her back while he was in between sessions at his out-of-town meeting and provided specifics on the division’s improvement levels. The first priority was money for the Museum staff in the amount of $250,000. The commissioner had also asked for $250,000 to bring the Historic Preservation development grants up to $750,000; rolling carriage storage system for the Museum area, which is a $900,000 item; Archives improvement package of $122,000; and a request of $1.3 million to update the Grave Creek exhibit.
Regarding the Survey and Planning Grants, Ms. Pierce called members’ attention to the two sets of grant summary sheets (copies attached to official minutes). She began with the Certified Local Government grants. She advised members that they are looking at the applications that Historic Preservation has received. Staff generally recommended funding for all of them, with the exception of the CSX Depot study for which the Ronceverte HLC applied but later withdrew their application because they do not yet own the building. The Town of Bath Historic Landmark Commission submitted the Heritage Education application, but it did not meet eligible funding activities as required by the National Park Service. The Second Creek Historic District project has been completed through a very comprehensive survey of a very extensive area. She and Erin Riebe agree that the nomination area needs to be honed. Historic Preservation has recommended $6,000, with the stipulation that staff works with them to identify an appropriate district area to nominate.
Full funding has been recommended for all the Survey Grants and partial funding has been recommended for the Pike Street Master Plan. She noted they have given out as much money as they can for that project within the percentage that the annual work program allows them to conduct. The Hinton Plan application did not offer anything that was eligible, as they wanted to do a streetscape project, which is not eligible under a planning activity. Also, they wanted to develop a work plan to implement their comprehensive plan, which should have been done in the earlier phases and staff opinion was that it wasn’t an adequate purpose for funding.
Several applications were received from Non-Certified Local Governments and staff was able to recommend a couple of them for funding: to assist Preservation Alliance of West Virginia with three hands-on workshops and with funding for a main speaker at their annual conference; and to assist a survey project in the City of Ranson. Chairman Conte asked if there were any questions or comments for Ms. Pierce. Fredrick Armstrong asked if both pools of money come from the federal funds, and Ms. Pierce answered in the affirmative. Mr. Armstrong asked if the total is to reflect ten percent of the total federal funding. Ms. Pierce stated it only reflects the CLGs, which she estimates would be $66,600, but Historic Preservation does not have their apportionment for this year. They are estimating it based upon what they got last year, with about $10,000 extra. There being no further questions or comments, Chairman Conte called for a motion. A motion to approve the recommended funding for Certified Local Governments was made by Harold Forbes and seconded by Dr. Charles Ledbetter. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte, current president of PAWV, noted he wished to recuse himself from voting on the recommended funding for Non-Certified Local Governments and yielded the chair to Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Vice Chair. A motion in favor of the recommended funding was made by Victor Greco and seconded by Bill Richardson. Motion carried.
Continuing with New Business, the FY 2009 Preserve America Mini-Grants (2nd Round) were presented by Susan Pierce (copies attached to official minutes). She informed members that Lewis Theater and Pocahontas Opera House both applied for assistance to update their equipment, which is an eligible activity under this particular program description. Bill Richardson asked if this was left over from the first round. Ms. Pierce answered in the affirmative and stated that another public notice has been sent out indicating there are still funds available, probably about $20,000. Amy Haden Sorrells made a motion to approve the mini-grants, Dr. Arnett seconded. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte called upon Joe Geiger to provide information regarding upcoming History Day. Mr. Geiger advised members that History Day is scheduled for Thursday, March 5, with 40 nominations having been received by the deadline for History Hero, which actually covers 43 people, as there is a husband and wife as well as a team included. As of January 23, 50 table reservations have been received and more are expected to come in next week before the deadline ends. There have been more requests this year for wireless hookups. Each of the sponsoring organizations has been contacted to make sure they are contributing in some way to the event. Mining Your History Foundation and the West Virginia Historical Society both contributed $200, which will be used for ribbons, pins, etc., for the History Heroes. He noted that last year Archives had to pay for the photographs rather than the division photographer taking care of this; however, a digital image was provided. Chairman Conte encouraged everyone to attend History Day 2009.
Chairman Conte appointed a Nominating Committee consisting of Amy Haden Sorrells and Victor Greco and asked them to present their report to the commission at the next meeting.
Chairman Conte inquired as to dates and locations of upcoming meetings. After some discussion, it was agreed that the Spring meeting would be held in Morgantown, at Mont Chateau, on Friday, 29 May 2009. It was also agreed to set a tentative date for the Fall meeting for Friday, 2 October 2009, at the Cultural Center in Charleston, and a tentative date of 29 January 2010 for the Winter meeting in the southern part of the state, with a 5 February 2010 backup date.
Mr. Armstrong made a motion to adjourn and Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 2:11 p.m.
Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Archives and History Commission