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Civil War preservation group, city reach truce of sorts

July 26, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

A Hagerstown-based Civil War preservation group made up with city officials this week - three weeks after the group's board chairman said it wasn't the group's job to "promote Hagerstown."

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said that the 45-minute meeting Thursday afternoon at City Hall with officials from the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites Inc. was "productive."

When asked if there were any apologies made, Zimmerman said there was acknowledgement that some of Chairman Alan E. Hoeweller's comments "didn't reflect positively on the relationship" between the city and the nonprofit group.

When reached by his secretary at a Gettysburg hotel Friday afternoon, Hoeweller said he had no comment beyond a prepared statement released by the city.

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"APCWS has been pleased with the office spaces and amenities that the City of Hagerstown has provided," Hoeweller said in the prepared statement. "The community has given APCWS a wonderful reception and has made our organization a vital part of Washington County."

City employees decided a meeting was needed after reading Hoeweller's comments in a July 2 article in the The Herald-Mail newspapers.

"We had concerns about some of those comments," Zimmerman said. That included concern about Hoeweller saying: "That's not our task to promote Hagerstown."

Hoeweller was referring to time staff members spent preparing for the 1997 re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam that distracted them from the group's mission to save Civil War battlefields.

Zimmerman said when city officials proposed in 1995 that the group move its headquarters from Fredericksburg, Va., to Hagerstown that one condition was the group would assist in promoting the community and Hagerstown as a Civil War tourism destination.

In exchange, the group received customized renovated office space in the city-owned Elizabeth Hager Center in Public Square and $1 a year rent, he said.

The preservation group also receives parking spaces for its staff, water, sewer, trash collection and several incentives from private businesses, according to city officials.

In return, the group also agreed to hold their annual conference in Hagerstown every four years, hold board meetings and Civil War seminars in town when appropriate, pay $1,700 in lieu of annual taxes, pay for gas and electric utilities and help identify and develop Civil War promotional opportunities, according to city officials.

Also attending the meeting were Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, City Council members William M. Breichner, Susan Saum-Wicklein and J. Wallace McClure and representatives from the Greater Hagerstown Committee and the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said Karen Giffin, city spokeswoman.

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