Chairman Robert Conte called the meeting to order at 9:38 a.m. In addition to Dr. Conte, other voting members present were Harold Forbes, Becky Frye, Victor Greco, Amy Haden, Dr. Helene Jacobs, Bill Richardson, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting members absent were Dr. Charles Hulse and Dr. Charles Ledbetter. Ex officio voting members absent were Fredrick H. Armstrong, president, West Virginia Historical Society; and Dr. Bill Arnett, president, West Virginia Historical Association. Ex officio non-voting members present were Joe Geiger, director of Archives and History, serving as secretary to the commission; Adam Hodges, director, Museums Section; Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; 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 Historic Preservation staff members Pam Brooks, Bethany Canfield, and Erin Riebe; and Administrative staff members Heather Butler and Jenny Morrison.
Following introductions, Chairman Conte asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 29 May 2009. Mr. Geiger shared corrections to the minutes provided by Historic Preservation staff, and Mr. Forbes offered several additions. A motion to approve the minutes with corrections was made by Harold Forbes, with a second by Dr. Joan Walker. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. In addition to information provided in the monthly reports for May through August previously mailed to members (copy attached to official minutes), he provided members with an update on the Veterans Memorial project, informed them of the completion of the Vital Records project, which he attributed to Fredrick Armstrong, spoke of visits to county courthouses on behalf of the Records Management and Preservation Board, and reported on the progress of the highway marker project. He also announced the upcoming John Brown on-line exhibit, which will include lesson plans and will be unveiled by the governor on October 6. Mr. Geiger made mention of upcoming lectures and workshops and plans to begin a genealogy club, which will meet weekly during Archives hours. He also noted efforts to strengthen ties with the Department of Education by presenting workshops to teachers from across the state. Improvements and additions to the Archives Library were noted, as was the addition of several collections.
Chairman Conte then called upon Ms. Pierce for her presentation of the Historic Preservation report. Ms. Pierce referred to her report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes), informing them of various activities, including selection of cemetery workshop scholarship recipients, development grant recipient orientation, selection of a development grant monitor, and the announcement of FY2010 survey and planning grant application availability. She noted staff training and workshops, and meetings with government officials and constituent groups. Ms. Pierce mentioned solicitation and selection of a consultant to complete the New Deal Multiple Property cover document as well as nominations for Hawks Nest, Watoga, Lost River, and Holly River State Parks, and noted that a brochure/web designer had been selected for Theatre and CCC/New Deal Trails. She also noted that the agency's annual public employee recognition was held recently and Pam Brooks of Historic Preservation was recognized for her efforts. Ms. Pierce also included a status report for state development grants for FY 2008 and FY 2009.
Chairman Conte then called upon Mr. Hodges for his presentation of the Museums report. He referred to his report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes), informing them that the West Virginia State Museum project is now complete and was dedicated by the governor on June 20, 2009, on its 115th anniversary. The attendance count as of September 28 was 27,527. A recent legislative audit commended the current administration for their dedication to completing the project. Mr. Hodges noted that additional programming is being developed to compliment the museum. He reviewed in-house and traveling exhibits and cooperation with the Clay Center on an exhibit. Governor Joe Manchin III dedicated the new battle flag exhibit, Waving for Liberty and the Union, at West Virginia Independence Hall on June 20. Mr. Hodges also reviewed activities at Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex, noting that the inventory database of the human remains and associated funerary objects has been completed and submitted to the division and to NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act).
In the absence of Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, Heather Butler, Director of Administration for the Division of Culture and History, presented a brief report on the FY2011 Improvement Requests: $1.5 million for Grave Creek exhibits; $4.2 million to update the WV State Theater; $225,000 to add a mezzanine to the Archives and History library; $250,000 to increase Historic Preservation funding grants; and $50,000 for a technology package to go along with the progression into a more automated system. She advised members, however, that the division had to cut the overall budget request by 5 percent for FY2011, as requested by the state budget office.
At this time, Chairman Conte asked for a motion for modification of the agenda to move presentation of the National Register nominations to this point in the meeting for the consideration of interested parties present. Amy Haden made the motion with Victor Greco providing the second. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations. The Camp Caesar Historic District, Webster County, nominated under Criterion A, Education, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History, and Criterion C, Architecture and Landscape Architecture, with a period of significance being 1922-1962, was presented by Courtney Fint. Mr. Tenney believed mention of older buildings should be emphasized in the nomination. Ms. Haden inquired as to what other WPA projects in the state have been nominated. Ms. Pierce mentioned a few, and discussed initiating a nomination process for state parks. Bill Richardson moved for approval of the nomination, with Victor Greco providing the required second. Motion carried.
The Herman Meyer House, Tucker County, nominated under Criterion A, Education, and Criterion B, Commerce, with a period of significance being 1898-1919, was presented by David Taylor. Harold Forbes moved for approval of the nomination, with Dr. Joan Walker providing the required second. Motion carried.
The Downtown Buckhannon Historic District, Upshur County, nominated under Criterion A, Politics/Government and Commerce, and Criterion C, Architecture, with a period of significance being 1879-1959, was presented by David Taylor. Mr. Tenney recused himself from the process because he is a non-voting ex-officio member of the Buckhannon Landmarks Commission. Dr. Walker noted she would like to see building material noted on the inventory. Dr. Joan Walker moved for approval of the nomination, with Harold Forbes providing the required second. Motion carried.
The Thomas Vanmetre House, Berkeley County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with periods of significance being 1838 and 1847, was presented by David Taylor. Dr. Walker asked if a site plan could be included in the nomination, which was agreed to by Mr. Taylor. Mr. Forbes asked for a description of Flemish bond vs. common bond, and an explanation was offered by Mr. Taylor. Becky Frye moved for approval of the nomination, with Dr. Joan Walker providing the required second. Motion carried.
The Barnett Hospital and Nursing School, Huntington, Cabell County, nominated under Criterion A, Health/Medicine and Ethnic Heritage, and Criterion B, Health/Medicine and Ethnic Heritage, with a period of significance being 1912-1939, was presented by Karen Nance. Commission members pointed out several typographical and grammatical errors in the nomination. They also expressed concern over the location of the building, but Ms. Nance assured them the property was not at risk because she owned it. Ms. Haden inquired as to proposed plans for use of the property and was informed it would be used for residential housing. Dr. Helene Jacobs moved for approval of the nomination, with Victor Greco providing the required second. Motion carried.
The First Ward School, Randolph County, nominated under Criterion A, Education, and Criterion C, Architecture, with a period of significance being 1907-1915, was presented by Robert Whetsell. Mr. Forbes expressed concern about trees next to the building but was informed they were not a problem. Victor Greco moved for approval of the nomination, with Harold Forbes providing the required second. Motion carried.
The Riverside School, Randolph County, nominated under Criterion A, Ethnic Heritage and Education, with a period of significance being 1905-1954, was presented by Melvin Lester. Dr. Conte inquired as to how long the building had been vacant and was informed it had not been occupied in ten years. Dr. Joan Walker moved for approval of the nomination, with Dr. Helene Jacobs providing the required second. Motion carried.
Fort Van Meter, Hampshire County, nominated under Criterion A, Military, and Criterion C, Architecture, with a period of significance being c.1754-c.1764, was presented by Erin Riebe. Mr. Richardson noted this was one of the earliest buildings he could recall the commission reviewing. Ms. Frye inquired if the plaster inside was horsehair, and Ms. Riebe stated staff would seek to determine an answer. Becky Frye moved for approval of the nomination, with Dr. Joan Walker providing the required second. Motion carried.
The Gribble Farm, Preston County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with periods of significance being c. 1842, c. 1870 and c. 1939, was presented by Bethany Canfield. Dr. Walker noted that the description of the log dwelling remains seems inaccurate and that it should be noted as the original site of the home. She also sought clarification as to where the kitchen was located, and the owner, who was present, provided information regarding the kitchen and original barn. Victor Greco moved for approval of the nomination, with Noel Tenney providing the required second. Motion carried.
At 12:25 p.m., Chairman Conte called for a lunch recess.
The meeting resumed at 1:00 p.m. Mr. Geiger noted that History Day is scheduled for February 18, 2010. Mailings for table reservations and History Hero nominations will be sent out at the end of October.
Turning to Old Business, Mr. Geiger reviewed materials that had been sent to commission members regarding their responsibility for the highway historical marker program (copy attached to official minutes). It was Mr. Geiger's understanding that Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith received a memo from the Attorney General's office stating the commissioner of Culture and History had final approval authority for markers. The commissioner would like the commission to review highway marker applications in an advisory role, but believes he has the final decision-making authority.
Mr. Tenney questioned the extent of the powers of the commission in relation to 29-1-5(e) and discussion ensued. Ms. Haden requested background information on the past role of the commission with regard to the marker program, and what gave rise to this issue, and Mr. Geiger reviewed. Dr. Walker reviewed the work of the marker subcommittee in revising marker guidelines, noting that specific criteria were added to prevent the proliferation of markers. Discussion continued on whether or not the commission should continue to play a role in the highway historical marker program.
Dr. Hohn noted that, in his experience, even if a group that makes recommendations is overruled, they still provide an invaluable service in reviewing and making recommendations. Ms. Haden stated her belief that the commission does have authority pursuant to the enabling statute; however, the commission's public duty would be best served by continuing to approve the marker program regardless of any legal interpretation of the commission's authority.
Mr. Richardson expressed concern over markers not approved by the Archives and History Commission but by the commissioner, stating that may lead the public to believe the commission approved them and reflect negatively on commission members, many of whom are professional historians. Mr. Geiger referred to the guidelines, noting that the language would need to be changed. Mr. Greco expressed his belief that the guidelines should reflect that the commission's decision can be overruled. Ms. Haden again stated she did not agree with the memorandum from the Attorney General's office, and a discussion ensued as to what options might be available to contest the Attorney General's office memorandum.
Amy Haden made a motion that the Archives and History Commission agrees to serve in an advisory capacity for the highway historical marker program provided the guidelines are changed to reflect that the commission serves in an advisory capacity. Victor Greco provided the second and the motion carried.
Two markers, Bull Moose Special and Big Elm, which had been tabled at the previous meeting, were then considered. Mr. Tenney asked if there were other markers commemorating these events and was informed there were none specific. Dr. Joan Walker made a motion that the commission approve the two markers. Bill Richardson seconded the motion. Following discussion, the motion was revised to read, "that the commission recommend the two markers go forward for consideration," which passed.
Mr. Geiger informed the commission that seven members whose terms have expired were contacted to see if they were interested in continuing their service on the commission. All agreed to continue if re-appointed. Mr. Richardson asked if there had been any movement on vacancies and was informed that there had been. Mr. Geiger added that the commissioner had informed him that he wanted to have the status of Dr. Charles Hulse resolved as well.
Ms. Riebe provided updates on National Register nominations previously reviewed by the commission (copy attached to official minutes). She also noted she was creating guidelines for National Register nomination presenters in an effort to limit the length of presentations. Mr. Richardson asked for clarification on the Blair Mountain nomination, which was provided by Ms. Riebe and Ms. Pierce. The National Park Service has initiated the de-listing process, and the Historic Preservation office is seeking clarification of their role in the de-listing process. Mr. Richardson noted that if the property is de-listed, it is likely logging operations will begin immediately.
Mr. Geiger reviewed the Proposed Revisions to the Archives and History Services and Fee Guidelines (copy attached to official minutes) and requested commission approval. Mr. Forbes praised the Archives staff for their work on the revisions and noted the importance of protecting these collections and keeping up with changing technology. Mr. Forbes made a motion that the proposed revisions be approved. Dr. Walker provided the second, and the motion passed.
Returning to the topic of the Blair Mountain nomination, Dr. Jacobs asked if commission members were restricted from talking to the press. A lengthy discussion ensued on the role and rights of commission members as private citizens and as a body to express their opinions publicly, and to determine what action the commission could take to signify their continued support of the nomination. Ms. Haden made a motion that the commission pass a resolution stating that the Blair Mountain site met the requirements of the Secretary of the Interior to be considered a site significant in American history sufficient to be considered as a property on the National Register and the commission is of the opinion that it still meets the requirements of significance to be listed. A second was provided by Dr. Jacobs and the motion passed.
Chairman Conte called upon Susan Pierce for her presentation of the FY2010 Annual Work Program (copy attached to official minutes). Ms. Pierce informed the commission that she had received opinions from counsel at the Attorney General's office and National Park Service staff that the annual work program does not need the approval of the Archives and History Commission. She noted, however, that the commission still plays an important role in offering advice and requested they provide endorsement of the program. A motion was made by Mr. Greco to endorse the 2010 Annual Work Program. Ms. Frye seconded. Motion carried.
In closing, Chairman Conte advised members of the upcoming Winter meeting to be held on Friday, January 29, 2010, in Charleston, and the Spring meeting, to be held on Friday, June 4, 2010, in Wheeling. A tentative date of October 1, 2010, was set for the Fall meeting.
Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.
Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.,
Archives and History Commission