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MINUTES
WEST VIRGINIA
ARCHIVES AND HISTORY COMMISSION
SPRING MEETING
FRIDAY, 3 JUNE 2011
THE INN AT CHARLES TOWN
CHARLES TOWN, WEST VIRGINIA

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, Becky Frye, Victor Greco, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting members absent were Jack Dickinson, 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; 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. Ex officio non-voting member absent was Jeremy Morris. Also present were Historic Preservation staff members Jennifer Brennan, Bethany Canfield, Pam Brooks, and Erin Riebe.

Following introductions, Chairman Conte asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 4 February 2011. Mr. Armstrong suggested several corrections, including the identification of Mark Gorman in the introductions section, a grammatical error in the last paragraph on page 2, and clarification regarding “cover memo” on page 3. A motion to approve the minutes as corrected was made by Mr. Tenney, with a second by Dr. Ledbetter. Motion carried.

Upon request of Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, Chairman Conte altered the agenda and called on Commissioner Reid-Smith for the Division of Culture and History report. The commissioner stated that improvement level requests are being prepared for fiscal year 2013. Requests include funds for work on completion of Grave Creek exhibits, renovations at Camp Washington-Carver, an increase in funds for Historic Preservation development projects, and funding for technology updates. He also discussed work on a five-year strategic plan. He introduced two WVU graduate student fellows in attendance, Amanda Adams and Beth McMullen, and noted that eleven governor’s interns were working for the division. The commissioner also noted completion of a light project in the Culture Center and of construction projects at Independence Hall. At Camp Washington-Carver, work continues on upgrading wells, designing a fire suppression system, and remodeling dormitories. The security fence is being replaced at Grave Creek, and a number of trees are to be removed from the mound. The Corps of Engineers has finished the exterior work on the Jenkins Plantation home and needs to do a survey on the floors and walls. He also informed commission members that events will be held at the Culture Center on July 9-10 celebrating the 35th anniversary of the building.

He noted that museum attendance continues to grow, particularly student attendance, and stated that the museum education program was being enhanced by the addition of an intern and the purchase of new computers. He also discussed the purchase of movable track shelving for the museum and mentioned the success of History Bowl, which had led to a tremendous increase in website usage. He then reviewed sesquicentennial activities, including the distribution of cameras and computers to one high school in each county to photographically document the county’s history, an essay contest, Sesquicentennial Moments, the quilt project, and the project to take statehood/Civil War cutouts into schools. The commissioner stated that the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is coming to Charleston in October for its leadership institute, with representatives from all fifty states. He also noted that the VH1 Save the Music Foundation is committed to funding the purchase of instruments for all K-8 schools in West Virginia.

Mr. Armstrong asked about the current budget and was informed there were some increases and no cuts. He asked if there were any adjustments to the funds for highway markers and was informed the amount remained about $75,000. Mr. Armstrong asked if any legislation had passed affecting the agency and was informed there was not. In answer to his question about appointments to the commission, he was informed they were being worked on by the Governor’s office. Mr. Armstrong asked when the next Capitol Building Commission meeting was to be held and if the agenda had been set. Ms. Pierce and Commissioner Reid-Smith informed him of the next meeting date and noted items that would be on the agenda. Mr. Armstrong also asked if the Historic Preservation office was involved in all Capitol Building Commission decisions, and Ms. Pierce stated that was the hope. She added that she, Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, and Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin have informed the Department of Administration multiple times that the Capitol Building Commission and the Historic Preservation office need to be informed in advance of proposed changes, but she could not be assured another agency would do that. Mr. Armstrong asked specifically about the wharf landing approach to the Capitol Complex area and the murals within the Capitol and was informed no action had been taken on either project. He stated that, since the Capitol is on the National Register, the commission needs to play a role in the preservation of the visual approach to the building and to make sure work is done in a way that will reinforce what the Capitol Building Commission should be doing. Mr. Greco made a motion that the commission write a letter to the Department of Administration and the commissioner of Culture and History, and send copies to Capitol Building Commission members, regarding projects brought to the Historic Preservation office and the Capitol Building Commission urging that the Capitol be preserved according to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Mr. Armstrong seconded. Motion carried. Commissioner Reid-Smith left the meeting.

Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. He referred members to information provided in the monthly reports for September through December (copy attached to official minutes). In addition, he noted increased attendance at Archives and History workshops and lectures and informed commission members that Archives and History’s Facebook and YouTube pages are up and running. He also reviewed sesquicentennial activities, which include a timeline with links to primary sources, the completion of a project to scan more than 2,600 militia letters, image and document exhibits, and work on a comprehensive bibliography. He then discussed the recent acquisition and processing of a number of collections. Mr. Geiger also detailed the History Bowl competition, History Day, Hoot Owl, the conversion of electronic records to microfilm, and Records Management and Preservation Board activities.

Mr. Armstrong asked how deed books were selected as the next area of preservation and was informed that the RMPB had made that decision. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question regarding whether Archives and History was retaining copies of microfilm and electronic records generated as part of the Statewide Preservation Project, Mr. Geiger responded that the digital images were delivered to the county clerks but the microfilm was being stored at the State Archives. Mr. Armstrong noted the concern that if copies of the electronic records are accessioned into the Archives, researchers may request these electronic records from the Archives rather than from the counties, thereby depriving them of revenue. He asked if the RMPB activities were part of the 5-year plan mentioned by the commissioner, and Mr. Geiger responded he imagined it would be, but that the plan was still in the early working stages. Mr. Armstrong noted that the commission should be involved in the planning process for any plans proposed by the division. Mr. Armstrong asked if funding for the preservation project was from the non-grant portion of the RMPB fund and was informed that it was. He also asked which records are being worked on for the next phase of Project Access and was notified that these materials include military discharges, naturalizations, and wills. Dr. Conte noted the records disposal activity in the Secretary of State’s office, and Mr. Geiger responded that they were working on revising their retention schedule and transferring materials to the Archives as well as destroying those records that had reached the end of their life cycle.

Chairman Conte then called upon Ms. Pierce for the presentation of the Historic Preservation report. Ms. Pierce introduced Historic Preservation staff in attendance and referred to the report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes). She discussed completion of the National Park Service grant applications, hiring of a monitor for development grants, and preparation of the annual work program, which will soon be made available for public comment. Ms. Pierce noted that her office had issued two permits to the Department of Administration for survey work at their Logan state office building project. Ms. Pierce noted a variety of educational opportunities, including presentations by Joseph McGill, who spoke at several schools and universities in the area, and participation in History Day and History Bowl events. Ms. Pierce mentioned that Sara Prior has been on the road doing presentations and workshops and she discussed work on Details, a Civil War publication with Stan Cohen, a History Day poster, and the 2012 Historic Preservation calendar. She also noted the completion of a historic windows brochure by the section’s first WVU fellow and discussed work with the WVU GIS Technical Center on updating the website and GIS system. She closed her report by noting her section’s continued work on review and compliance (496 Section 106 review letters in a three-month period) and tax credit projects, and work with other agencies on the Middle Mile broadband project and the Moorefield Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Mr. Greco asked about mitigation efforts associated with the City of Wheeling’s federally assisted demolition projects. He was informed by Ms. Pierce that documentation of buildings listed or considered eligible for the National Register was required and would be added to Historic Preservation files. A website would also be developed to present the history of the area neighborhoods. Mr. Greco expressed his concern that several of the recent buildings that had been demolished were important structures.

Chairman Conte then called upon Mr. Morris for the Museums report. He referred to his report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes) and discussed activities and programming at the sites. He also mentioned the upcoming celebration for the 35th anniversary of the Culture Center and the opening of the West Virginia wildlife juried exhibition, and he noted that the biennial West Virginia juried exhibition will open in Wheeling in September 2011.

Turning to Old Business, Ms. Riebe provided updates on National Register nominations previously reviewed by the commission (copy attached to official minutes). Regarding Blair Mountain, she informed commission members that property owner research was conducted. Of the 67 property owners, there were 52 objections, so the nomination will not be re-submitted to the National Park Service, but Blair Mountain will remain eligible to be listed on the National Register. She informed members that Bullskin Run was returned and is being re-drafted. The New Deal Multiple Property submission was listed, but the cover document was returned for some technical changes, which were completed. Mr. Armstrong stated he would like to have revised versions of cover documents in the future.

Turning to New Business, Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations. Before introducing the first presenter, Ms. Riebe noted that Jim Gabbert, reviewer at the National Park Service, was in attendance.

The Davis Coal & Coke Administration Building, Tucker County, nominated under Criterion A, Industry and Commerce, with period of significance being 1900-1950, was presented by Cindy Phillips. Dr. Hohn asked if there are maps stored in the building and was informed that the maps had been removed and scanned by the Maryland Department of Mines. He also asked if the building was being used and was informed that it was not in use but the community hoped to turn it into a museum. Ms. Frye and Dr. Walker praised the report as excellent and thorough. Mr. Armstrong asked if other records were in the building and was informed that there were engineers’ log books and other documents. Ms. Phillips noted that a lot of the records were reportedly dumped into a mine shaft. Mr. Armstrong stated that since the nomination was for industry and commerce, a better connection should be shown between the town, the influx of immigrants, and industry. Mr. Armstrong moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Arnett provided the second. Motion carried.

Harrisville Historic District, Ritchie County, nominated under Criterion A, Community Planning and Development, Education, and Politics and Government, and Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being c. 1860-c. 1957, was presented by Jean Boger. Dr. Hohn spoke in support of the nomination. Mr. Tenney asked if this was the first historic district in town to be considered and was informed it was. Mr. Armstrong stated he found the nomination difficult to follow as a cohesive document of community planning and development. Ms. Riebe responded that additional information and maps could be added, and Mr. Greco noted that graphically, an additional map would help pull it together. In response to Mr. Armstrong, who inquired how to determine whether structures should be defined as contributing or non-contributing, Ms. Riebe said a paragraph had been added describing how those determinations were made. Dr. Arnett moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Walker provided the second. Motion carried.

Hickory Grove, Hampshire County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being 1849 and 1892, was presented by Erin Riebe. Mr. Armstrong referenced language in the nomination and recommended that this and all nominations move away from looking at properties within county jurisdictions. Properties should be reviewed in a geographical context, such as a watershed or valley formation, rather than within modern political boundaries. Dr. Arnett pointed out a spelling error on page five, which Ms. Riebe will have corrected. Mr. Greco moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Ledbetter provided the second. Motion carried.

The Ananias Pitsenbarger Farm, Pendleton County, nominated under Criterion A, Agriculture and Ethnic Heritage, and Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being c. 1830-1961, was presented by Erin Riebe. Before proceeding with the nomination presentation, Ms. Riebe introduced the property owners, Jeffrey and Teresa Munn. Mr. Tenney noted the property was one of the most important farm complexes of the German layout still in West Virginia. Mr. Forbes offered a couple of corrections, which Ms. Riebe said would be made. Mr. Forbes then asked for a description of the construction of wooden hinges, and the owners offered an explanation. Mr. Armstrong asked if there was a designated orchard, and he was informed there was not but that there are fruit trees all over the farm. Mr. Armstrong also recommended the inclusion of corn among the listed crops. Dr. Walker asked about plans for stabilizing buildings on the property. The owners noted that several buildings are in dire need of work, but they were waiting to see if the property would be listed on the National Register before proceeding with stabilization efforts. They would also like to open the house more to the public and perhaps establish a bed and breakfast. Mr. Armstrong inquired if there was documentation that the privy was constructed by WPA, to which the owners stated that there was no concrete evidence but that they believed it was from that period. Dr. Ledbetter moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Armstrong 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 $625,724 in grants be awarded, which included funding from the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation ($559,029), a supplemental 2011 appropriation ($35,176), and accumulated cancelled and unspent grant funds ($31,519). Mr. Tenney commented that he thought the grants were better balanced than in previous years and reflected the commission’s desire for greater community support. Dr. Arnett moved for approval of the FY2012 State Development Grants and Mr. Tenney provided the second. Motion carried.

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

Chairman Conte advised members of the upcoming Fall meeting, to be held on Friday, 30 September 2011, in Petersburg. The Winter meeting is scheduled for 27 January 2012, in Charleston.

Dr. Ledbetter, on behalf of the commission, expressed appreciation to commission member Becky Frye for arranging the tour of the conservation center. Mr. Greco made a motion to adjourn. Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 12:08 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Secretary


Archives and History Commission

West Virginia Archives and History