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MINUTES
WEST VIRGINIA
ARCHIVES AND HISTORY COMMISSION
SPRING MEETING
FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2012
BLACKWATER FALLS STATE PARK LODGE
DAVIS, WEST VIRGINIA

Chairman Robert Conte called the meeting to order at 9:32 a.m. In addition to Dr. Conte, other voting members present were Jack Dickinson, Harold Forbes, Victor Greco, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting members absent were Becky Frye 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; Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; Charles Morris, director, Museums Section; Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section; and Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of Culture and History. Non-voting member absent was Jeremy Morris. Also present were Historic Preservation staff members Jennifer Brennan, Pam Brooks, Erin Riebe, and summer intern Lauren Hatfield.

Following introductions, Dr. Conte noted three additional items that were to be added to New Business. Dr. Hohn wished to speak about earthquakes while Mr. Armstrong wanted to discuss a commission quorum issue and procedural rules and by-laws. Chairman Conte asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 27 January 2012. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Mr. Armstrong, with a second by Dr. Arnett. 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 for January through April 2012 (copy attached to official minutes). He mentioned Archives and History work relating to the Hatfields and McCoys television mini-series, the continued success of the lecture series in the Archives and History library, History Day, Hoot Owl, History Bowl, and the Records Management and Preservation Board statewide preservation project. He also noted that work on the sesquicentennial projects continued and that the timeline had been completed. Statehood leader biographies compiled by students from West Virginia State University had been added to the website, and Terry Lowry was still working on a bibliography of primary sources in State Archives collections. Mary Johnson had also created on-line versions of photo gallery exhibits that had been displayed in the space off of the Great Hall.

Mr. Armstrong asked about the state records being reviewed, and Mr. Geiger stated that he was receiving retention schedules electronically that had formerly been submitted in paper form. Mr. Armstrong asked how many schedules had gone completely through the approval process, and Mr. Geiger replied that he believed about five had been approved. He noted that many issues would be resolved if they could obtain answers as to how long auditors require retention of financial records. Mr. Armstrong asked if the Department of Administration was providing training for records managers in the various agencies, and Mr. Geiger stated that he was unsure if training had been implemented but it was certainly necessary to further records management. Mr. Armstrong asked if the proposed retention schedules included electronic records and was informed that they did not, and Mr. Geiger spoke to the importance of including the Office of Technology in planning for records retention. Mr. Armstrong noted that the Department of Administration needs to address electronic records management and that Archives and History does not have the staff or the expertise to handle this enormous growing issue. Mr. Armstrong asked about work being done for the Secretary of State’s office and was informed that the work Archives and History had done related to materials that had been transferred to the State Archives. Given that some agencies charge Archives and History fees for services rendered, Mr. Armstrong commented that it might be time for Archives and History to begin charging other agencies for services. Mr. Armstrong asked about legislation regarding medals that had been introduced in the 2012 session, and Mr. Geiger explained the proposed legislation and noted it was dropped. Mr. Armstrong asked about another piece of records legislation that was vetoed by the governor. Mr. Geiger reviewed the legislation and mentioned his primary concern was with a provision that permitted free copies to historical societies. Mr. Tenney mentioned that he had seen a number of the refurbished highway historical markers and recommended that the Division of Highways paint the posts. Mr. Geiger responded that alternative methods, such as using volunteers or contract staff, would be worth exploring. Mr. Armstrong noted two markers that have been destroyed and also suggested it might be feasible to explore an “adopt-a-marker” program.

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 recent activities, including attendance at the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and personnel changes. Three CAMP (Commission Assistance and Mentoring Program) workshops had been held and were highly successful, and one more was scheduled for Charleston on September 8. She discussed cancelled development grants, the GIS website, and review and compliance activities. Ms. Pierce noted they had conducted several meetings with West Side Main Street and the City of Charleston to address ownership of the Staats Building in Charleston. She also noted that the draft annual work program was available for review and comment.

Mr. Armstrong asked about the number of attendees at the CAMP workshops, and was informed that a total of fifty persons had attended the three events. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question whether the cancelled grants projects had been totally cancelled, Ms. Pierce stated that some had. Mr. Armstrong asked if the unexpended funds were awarded, and Ms. Pierce explained the process. Mr. Armstrong asked about the Staats building, and he was informed that the ownership was being worked on by West Side Main Street and that SHPO was awaiting a letter from them regarding the matter. Mr. Greco asked about the real estate agent mentoring program, and Ms. Pierce explained that efforts were ongoing.

Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Morris for the Museums report. Mr. Morris referred to the report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes) and reviewed a number of activities, including school group tours, educational efforts, the marble tournament, the collections storage system, and the organization of specific collections. He noted that museum attendance continued to increase and that staff was working on a variety of efforts to provide opportunities for everyone. Mr. Morris mentioned the June 20 activities and the 80th anniversary of the capitol construction.

Dr. Hohn mentioned that he had gone through the museum after the January meeting and found it a moving, effective display. Mr. Armstrong asked about the normal commuting distance and whether the 50/50 transportation funds served all the state, and he was informed that they did. In reply to his question about whether the funds could be used for the visitation of other Culture and History sites, Commissioner Reid-Smith stated that the money could only be used to visit the State Museum. He then explained how the program worked and noted that all 55 counties had been served. Mr. Armstrong asked if state funds were available and was informed that the funds came from a private donation. Mr. Armstrong inquired as to what exhibits and programs were in place for the upcoming year. Mr. Morris discussed West Virginia 150, which will focus on features and high points in West Virginia history and other exhibits highlighting West Virginia’s artist community and the museum’s contemporary art collection.

Chairman Conte then called upon Commissioner Reid-Smith for the Culture and History report. The commissioner reviewed the Governor’s intern program, surface table projects for the State Museum, and an augmented reality project. He also discussed the successful History Bowl competitions, efforts to expand the yearbooks collection, the completion of the murals at Independence Hall, and the proposed construction of an iron fence around Independence Hall. The commissioner noted the construction of a fire suppression system at Camp Washington-Carver and stated that he intends to hold camps there next year. Bids were out for the stage and classroom storage areas. At Grave Creek, a change order for the security fence had been submitted, and the bathrooms and theater were being redone. Mr. Reid-Smith noted that there is a groundswell under the Culture Center which has led to some seepage but that a legislative supplemental appropriation had been received to correct the problem. He spoke about museum education planners, sesquicentennial activities, Arts activities, and the VH1 Save the Music program.

Mr. Armstrong asked for a breakdown on the budget for this year and next year and asked how the increased appropriation would be distributed to the three sections, and the commissioner responded. Mr. Armstrong asked about commission appointments and was informed that a new appointments secretary had been appointed, and that the abstract had been completed, sent to the chief of staff, and would be presented to the governor. Commissioner Reid-Smith then left the meeting.

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 Luna Park Historic District and Buckhannon Central Residential Historic District, both approved by the commission in January, had been listed.

Turning to New Business, Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations.

Dr. W. W. Monroe House, Wood County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being 1898, was presented by Erin Riebe. Ms. Riebe introduced Charlotte and Randy Modessit, the property owners. Following the presentation, Mr. Armstrong asked about part of the property being sold and was told this occurred in 1944. Mr. Forbes asked about the appearance of the turrets, and whether this was a paint scheme or reflective of past architectural features, and was informed that the wood panels were originally painted red. Mr. Tenney asked about the corner of the house and was informed it was not an addition, just siding that had been added due to the fact that weather hits that side. Mr. Forbes pointed out a couple of typographical errors in the nomination, which Ms. Riebe said would be corrected. Dr. Hohn commented that he liked reading and viewing the nomination, noting that the drawings were well-done. Mr. Armstrong moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Walker provided the second. Motion carried.

Chairman Conte called upon Ms. Pierce for the presentation of the FY2012 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 that $637,295 in grants be awarded. Mr. Tenney asked about the minimum grant award and was informed that the project must be at least $2,000. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question, Ms. Pierce informed the commission that staff members do the scoring. Mr. Tenney asked about funding for courthouses and whether those applying on their behalf are referred to Courthouse Facilities for funding. Ms. Pierce responded that there was nothing to prevent them from applying. Mr. Tenney stated that with the limited amount of development funding available and an excess of applications for non-courthouse projects, there should be an effort to fund these types of projects since they have no alternate source of grant funding. Ms. Pierce proposed his suggestion be incorporated into a letter and submitted for 2013 consideration.

Dr. Hohn asked why there was such a great range in scores, and Ms. Pierce attributed the variance to differences in how the grant application was completed, noting that many applicants fail to follow instructions. Omitting plans and specs, for example, means an automatic deduction of ten points, and a failure to get community support has an adverse impact. Dr. Hohn asked if workshops were held to prepare groups to apply and was informed that Ms. Brooks spends several months assisting applicants. Ms. Brennan also noted that they inform training attendees that if they submit their applications early SHPO staff will review them for completeness. Dr. Conte noted that the staff at Carnegie Hall was very complimentary of the assistance they received from the SHPO office. Ms. Brooks added that they included a checklist with the application, which provided further aid. Mr. Armstrong observed that 27 applications had been received from 15 counties and that more effort should be made to publicize the program to solicit applications from additional counties. Ms. Brooks noted that applications may be down somewhat due to the difficulty in coming up with matching funds. Mr. Tenney asked about the funding for the Lewis County Courthouse, and Ms. Pierce noted that there were not enough funds left to fund that project. Mr. Dickinson departed at 11:32 a.m. Dr. Arnett moved to approve the staff recommendations for the FY2012 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 Dr. Hohn to present the Nominating Committee’s suggested slate of officers. Dr. Hohn reported that the committee recommendation is for the nomination of Dr. Robert Conte as chairperson and Dr. Charles Ledbetter as vice chairperson. Dr. Hohn moved to accept the recommendation of the committee and Dr. Arnett seconded. Motion carried.

Dr. Hohn then spoke about research activity on earthquakes. He stated that the United States Geologic Survey was looking at a continual background of earthquake activity and noted that waves can be used to map out underground structures and faults. The USGS is looking for locations and property owners for the installation of instruments. There are currently twelve in the state.

Chairman Conte then called on Mr. Armstrong, who spoke to the number of Archives and History members necessary to constitute a quorum. He stated that when he had served as secretary for the commission, he had been informed that because of the way the Code was written, eight voting members were necessary. In January Mr. Geiger had asked Ms. Pierce to consult with the Attorney General’s office regarding the quorum issue, and he was informed that a majority of voting members currently serving constituted a quorum and that vacant positions would not be counted. Mr. Armstrong contacted legislative counsel, and he was informed that their interpretation was that the way the legislation was written required a majority of members with voting privileges, regardless of vacancies. He also contacted the managing attorney general who informed him that the best way to resolve the question was to have the chairman of the commission submit a request for a formal opinion. Mr. Armstrong believed this action was necessary so there would be no future questions or concerns about actions taken by commission in terms of compliance with the Code. Dr. Conte stated he would submit a letter asking for an opinion from the Attorney General’s office.

Mr. Armstrong then spoke about by-laws passed by the commission in 2002 with the intent to file them as a procedural rule. He had failed to file them with the Secretary of State’s office as directed, and he believed that needed to be done. He believed since ten years had passed since they had been approved by the commission, members should review the by-laws for any necessary changes before having them filed with the Secretary of State’s office. Mr. Geiger stated he would email the by-laws as approved by the commission in 2002 so members could review and suggest changes.

The Fall Meeting is scheduled for September 27, 2012, in Shepherdstown. The winter meeting is scheduled for January 25, 2013, (with a backup of February 1) in Charleston.

Dr. Arnett made a motion to adjourn, and Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 12:12 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Secretary


Archives and History Commission

West Virginia Archives and History