By Danielle LaPresta
Everyone in southern West Virginia knows about the 2013 National Boy Scouts Jamboree. Two weeks ago, thousands of scouts (estimates up to 50,000), along with parents, siblings, and scout leaders came to southern West Virginia to complete service projects in the state. Whatever your feelings are toward the Boy Scout organization, you must agree this is a very impressive planning feat.
The Whipple Company Store in Scarbro and McCoy Fort in Williamsburg are two sites on the West Virginia Endangered Properties List that engaged the scouts for service projects. Sites had to complete a vigorous application process to receive this support, but it seems well worth the efforts!
The archaeological work at McCoy Fort progressed greatly with the help of the scouts, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps members, and other volunteers, including professional archaeologists Dr. Kim and Dr. Stephen McBride and Carolyn Stephens. It must be mentioned that Carolyn has been working tirelessly to pull off this event, and she did so almost single-handedly. She personifies what we mean when we say this is a grassroots project.
A little background on the fort…
The fort and archaeological site had been covered by a sheep barn at least a century ago. This barn protected the fort and site from the elements, but in the last few years, weather ravaged the barn and threatened the fort and site. With the barn collapsing, Carolyn and several other volunteers were faced with the question of how to dismantle the barn safely and not damage the fort in time for the scouts’ scheduled archaeology project.
The fort is located about 15 miles from Route 219, a major artery traveling through rural Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties. Starting off with two lanes, the road to McCoy Fort quickly narrows to one lane through the lush farmland of Williamsburg. It is a tough road to travel with heavy machinery, which is needed to dismantle the barn and the fort, although I saw plenty of WV Department of Transportation Trucks during my commute on the country road. Many contractors did not want to take on the job because it was small and in a rural location. They did not see it as a cost effective project for either side.
Carolyn had been at a loss for some time over dismantling the fort. She had lots of support from the state, county, and community, as well as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which provided emergency funding to preserve the site and fort after the 2012 derecho. However, she could not find anyone to dismantle the barn and the fort so that an archaeological excavation could occur.
McCoy Fort tagged and dismantled in preparation for the archaeology, which is needed to complete the National Register Nomination.
About a week before the scouts arrived, Carolyn, her husband, and several volunteers cleaned up the site and barn debris, tagged the fort logs, and dismantled and moved the logs. It was a remarkable feat! And just in time for the scouts to participate in the archaeological dig.
When I stopped by the site last Thursday to see the scouts working, I was truly awe-struck and inspired by what a few people can accomplish in preparation for a larger project. The scouts were thoroughly involved and seemed genuinely excited about their work, even if it was covered somewhat in sheep manure. Dr. Kim McBride was thrilled about the day’s finds, and the foundation of the fort was identified. Although it is not confirmed if the site was definitely a fort, archaeologists are on their way to interpreting it and educating us all about a lesser-known frontier historical site in West Virginia.
The McBrides and Carolyn are already planning a workshop with the community to clean the artifacts, and they are developing plans to engage 5th and 8th grade Greenbrier County students and teachers in the educational process. It is a community effort worth mirroring!
We have canceled the Hazardous Materials & Safety Workshop scheduled to be held at Arthurdale on July 26.
We plan to reschedule sometime this Fall.
Stay tuned for more information!
Below is a copy of the letter PAWV is sending to Senator Manchin. We will tweak it slightly before sending it to Senator Rockefeller, as he is a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Please feel free to send this letter to the Senators and ask them to fight to preserve the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit during tax reform.
Dear Senator Manchin,
This is Danielle LaPresta, Executive Director of Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV). On behalf of the Board of Directors and PAWV members, I am writing to ask you to submit the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit to the Senate Finance Committee during tax reform discussions. Please ask the Committee to renew the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit because it is an economic engine supporting private investment, and it creates good jobs.
The Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit makes a positive impact. It levels the playing field in terms of the cost to rehabilitate existing buildings versus the cost and incentives for new construction. Preservation projects are known to revitalize neighborhoods, support local economies, and create lasting improvements. Also, we know that in West Virginia, and in 30 other states, the state government increases the effects of the federal investment with State Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Please do not let this valuable tool be eliminated during tax reform.
The Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit is a worthwhile investment for the federal government. It has generated over $66 million dollars of private investment into historic buildings and communities. Revitalization projects such as the adaptive re-use of First Ward School in Elkins, the renovation of the old Wheeling Public Library, the preservation of downtown Lewisburg, and the development of heritage tourism sites in Jefferson County demonstrate how historic preservation works in West Virginia’s communities. As developers have told me on numerous occasions, without the Tax Credit, these revitalization projects would not be possible. Additionally, the Tax Credit has created 2.4 million quality and higher paying jobs in the country to date with an estimated 75% coming from within the project’s region. The Tax Credit has proven its usefulness and necessity, time and time again.
I urge you to submit the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit to the Senate Finance Committee during tax reform discussions. It represents a greater return than investment for the federal government; generating $25.9 billion while costing $20.5 billion. When a historic building no longer meets the needs for which it was built, the Tax Credit provides additional investment to bring new life to the building and to our communities.
If you have any questions about the content in this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me. We need incentives like the Tax Credit in West Virginia, and I hope you will argue for this Tax Credit during tax reform.
We are pleased to announce that Donovan Rypkema will be a workshop instructor at the 2013 Statewide Historic Preservation Mini-Conference to be held in Morgantown, September 20-21, 2013. Rypkema will bring a fresh voice and extensive experience to how historic preservation can address the many economic development and revitalization challenges West Virginia faces. Government officials, developers, and planners are encouraged to attend, as are historic preservationists, architects, and community citizens.
The workshop will focus on bringing investments to West Virginia and will cover three different but interrelated elements of historic preservation: incentives, adaptive re-use, and rightsizing. Specific attention will be paid to what historic preservation incentives are, how they work, and the public policy justification for providing direct or indirect public resources for private assets. Additionally, Rypkema will explain how historic preservation works for the private sector and ways to re-use historic buildings when they no longer meet the needs for which they were built. The final segment of the workshop will look at the challenges of a declining population and if and how historic preservation is part of the efforts for rightsizing.
Rypkema is an expert in the economics of historic preservation and is the Principal of PlaceEconomics, a real estate and economic investment firm based in Washington D.C. He has given workshops in 48 states, and this September will be his first workshop in West Virginia. This workshop will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 9 am – 5 pm at the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown. AICP certified planners can earn 6.5 Certificate Maintenance credits during the workshop. Register before September 6th, and the cost of the workshop for PAWV members is $25. Nonmembers can attend the workshop for $40. Online registration information is available at http://www.pawv.org.
PAWV will host other activities over the weekend, including a Civil War Walking Tour of downtown Morgantown and the annual Historic Preservation Awards Banquet. The banquet will be held at the historic Hotel Morgan, and Rypkema will join participants for a keynote speech. For more information on activities and registration, visit www.pawv.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 724-322-8959. There are also volunteer opportunities for discounted entry.
Mark your calendars for the Mini-Conference September 20-21 in Morgantown, West Virginia.
We are excited to announce the release of our 2013 Mini-Conference Brochure this week. We have two days of informative workshops and lots of fun activities. We’ll be in downtown Morgantown the entire weekend, and you’ll have the prime opportunity to dine and shop in many locally owned restaurants and stores.
View the full brochure and register online HERE! Early bird registration ends September 6th!
Want to Volunteer?
Volunteer registration opportunities available! Help us with a few tasks during the mini-conference and enjoy an extremely discounted entry fee!
Special Sponsorship Opportunity Available for the Awards Banquet
For the awards banquet, sponsor a table for you and your friends, and you’ll receive 8 prime seats at the banquet and 8 free entries to the Saturday workshop of your choice. Learn how HERE!
Need to Stay Overnight?
Special discounted hotel accommodations available for out-of-town attendees. Book a room at the Hotel Morgan prior to August 15th under the PAWV block to receive a discounted price of $99 + tax/night.
Reservations are available for Friday, September 20, and Saturday, September 21. Enjoy suites with Wi-Fi, king-size beds, spacious bathrooms, and a continental breakfast. Call 304.292.8200 to book your room today!
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