Chairman Harold Forbes called the meeting to order at 9:33 a.m. In addition to Mr. Forbes, other voting members present were Dr. Robert Conte, Victor Greco, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Nathan Randolph, and Keven Walker. Voting members absent were Dr. Melissa Bingmann, Rebecca Frye, Bill Richardson, and Dr. Joan Walker. Ex officio voting members present were Fredrick Armstrong and Dr. Bill Arnett. Ex officio non-voting members present were Joe Geiger, director, Archives and History Section; Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section; Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of Culture and History; and Sandra Scaffidi, president of Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. Ex officio non-voting member absent was Charles Morris, director, Museums Section. Also present were Historic Preservation staff members Jennifer Brennan, Pam Brooks, and Erin Riebe.
Chairman Forbes asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 23 January 2015. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Dr. Conte, with a second by Dr. Ledbetter. The minutes were approved.
Chairman Forbes continued with introductions and then asked for a motion on the agenda. He noted that one item, the conflict of interest statement, was to be added to the New Business section of the agenda. Mr. Armstrong also asked that a discussion on the grant process be added to New Business. Mr. Greco made a motion to approve the agenda as revised, and Dr. Arnett provided the second. Motion approved.
Chairman Forbes called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. Mr. Geiger referred members to information provided in the monthly reports for December 2014 through April 2015 (copies attached to official minutes) and then reviewed recent activities. He informed members that he had the privilege of reading names at the Golden Horseshoe ceremony earlier in the month and that the 2015 History Bowl state tournament had been a great success. Geiger stated he had also spoken to the annual conference of circuit clerks and attended a genealogy conference in Teays Valley. He reviewed recent and upcoming lectures and noted work on several collections, including the Norman family collection. A Notice to Proceed had not been received from the Division of Highways for the sesquicentennial grant project but staff has been busy preparing for the project, which will result in the creation and installation of 160 new highway historical markers.
Chairman Forbes then called upon Susan Pierce for the Historic Preservation report. Ms. Pierce provided a written report to members (copy attached to official minutes) and reviewed section activities. SHPO has revised and edited their FY 2016 annual work program and is seeking to fill two vacant positions. The Historic Landmark Commission in Moorefield was recently certified by SHPO staff and the National Park Service as a Certified Local Government (CLG) program. Ms. Brooks oversaw orientation for the second round of development grants and for the survey and planning grants which were approved by the commission at the Winter meeting, and an awards ceremony was held with Governor Tomblin.
Staff visited Ridgedale Farm in Hampshire County to review work that had been conducted on the property as required by the grant covenant. Ms. Pierce noted the section's education efforts, including a session at Vandalia featuring an archaeological dig, which proved to be very successful. Work continued on the 2016 calendar, which will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, and other activities are being planned. Ms. Riebe has visited and reviewed a number of properties working with persons interested in drafting National Register nominations. The review and compliance staff had been very active, reviewing 485 projects between February and May. Staff looked at the president's home at Marshall University and met with university staff about minor repairs, and they also provided comments to the Capitol Building Commission regarding repairs to the governor's mansion.
Dr. Conte asked if Top O'Rock was going to survive and Ms. Brennan stated her belief that it would. Mr. Armstrong asked which windows were included in repairs at the governor's mansion, and Commissioner Reid-Smith responded that it was the downstairs windows that were replaced. Ms. Pierce added that the upstairs windows had already been done and that the first floor windows were being replaced with wooden windows.
In the absence of Charles Morris, no Museums report was given, although a written report was submitted to members (copy attached to official minutes).
Chairman Forbes then asked Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith to speak on activities of Culture and History. The commissioner spoke about History Bowl and informed the commission that more than 20,000 History Bowl bookmarks had been sent to seventh graders across the state. Ambassador's Camp was scheduled to begin on June 15, and work is progressing on new Museums and Historic Preservation publications. Planning has commenced on renovating the theater, beginning with the stage and involving updating of the lighting and sound. Work was progressing at Washington Carver, with the replacement of roofs on the lodge and smaller building and the completion of a fire suppression system. He informed members that the fence at Independence Hall had been installed. The commissioner noted that no cuts had been made to his program budget and mentioned a number of Arts programs. He stated that new appointments had been made to the commission and that other recommendations had been made.
Mr. Forbes asked for an update on commission appointments. The commissioner replied that he had asked for the re-appointment of commission members whose terms would expire in 2015 and that he had recently submitted names for the vacant positions.
Turning to Old Business, Ms. Riebe distributed a sheet with updates on National Register nominations previously reviewed by the commission (copy attached to official minutes). Riverside Ironworks Office Building and Dunbar School were both listed.
Turning to New Business, Chairman Forbes called on Ms. Riebe for her review of the commission's role in the National Register nomination process. Following her presentation, she responded to questions and comments from commission members.
Chairman Forbes then called on Ms. Pierce to present the FY2016 State Development Grants. Following her presentation, Dr. Arnett moved to approve the staff recommendations for the FY2016 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. Dr. Ledbetter seconded.
Mr. Greco stated he would need to abstain from voting on some of the applications due to a conflict of interest. Mr. Armstrong pointed out that according to the Conflict of Interest form, commission members who had a conflict of interest with grant applications must physically absent themselves from the room during discussions on those applications. Following a discussion and a determination that commission members with a conflict of interest on certain properties would have to remove themselves from the room during discussion and voting on those properties, Dr. Arnett withdrew his motion.
Mr. Greco and Ms. Scaffidi left the room and Chairman Forbes called for a motion on the Blue Church application, and Mr. Walker made a motion to approve the staff recommendation for the Blue Church state development grant. Mr. Randolph provided the second, and the motion passed.
Chairman Forbes then called for a motion on the Blue Sulphur Springs application. Dr. Ledbetter made a motion to approve the staff recommendation for the Blue Sulphur Springs state development grant and Mr. Randolph seconded. Mr. Armstrong asked if they had a current grant and was informed by Ms. Brooks that they had a current grant for $25,000. In response to his question about the status of the grant, Ms. Brooks and Ms. Brennan explained that they are waiting to see if they receive another grant so they only have to bid the project out one time. This is due to the expense of getting heavy equipment to the site to do some of the work, and it will save money to only do this one time. Motion passed. Mr. Greco and Ms. Scaffidi returned to the room.
Mr. Randolph made a motion to approve staff recommendations for the remaining FY2016 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. Mr. Greco provided the second. Mr. Armstrong asked if the Fayette County Courthouse had applied for grant funding from the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. Ms. Pierce stated they had received funding in the past but she was unsure if they had applied this time. Mr. Walker added that the state development grants should be used for this project regardless of whether they had applied for other grants. Citing a potential future conflict of interest, Mr. Greco and Ms. Scaffidi left the room. Motion passed, with Mr. Armstrong abstaining.
Following the return of Mr. Greco and Ms. Scaffidi, Chairman Forbes called on Dr. Ledbetter to give the Nominating Committee report on a suggested slate of officers (chair and vice chair). Dr. Ledbetter reported that the committee's recommendation is for the nomination of Harold Forbes as chairperson and Victor Greco as vice chairperson. Dr. Ledbetter moved to accept the recommendation of the committee and Mr. Randolph provided the second. Motion carried.
Chairman Forbes called on Mr. Armstrong to comment on the Grant Process Procedure. Mr. Armstrong believed that although positive changes had been made, many panel remarks indicated that the process could be improved. He suggested requiring submission by a certain date and an internal review process to get missing items or omissions that would aid panelists and enable even-handed treatment of applications. Mr. Armstrong stated he believed a lot of applicants were falling out of the system because they need more assistance, and he asked if there was some way to check an application when it is received to make sure all the needed materials are there. Ms. Brooks replied that they already had a checklist for applications and offer training to potential applicants. Mr. Armstrong recommended that an incomplete application not be considered for funding. Dr. Hohn stated that he would hate to not let the panel use their judgment.
Chairman Forbes noted that the Fall meeting is scheduled to be held in Beckley on September 25, with October 2 as a backup date. The Winter meeting will be held in Morgantown on January 29, with February 5 as a backup date.
Mr. Greco made a motion to adjourn and Chairman Forbes declared the meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Archives and History Commission