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Photos feature players at W.Va. summit

June 14, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherdstown's role in hosting peace talks between Syria and Israel last January was a momentous occasion for the town, and now the community has its own history of the event.

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Hali Taylor's photographic illustration of the talks is hanging in a studio in downtown Shepherdstown, and is open for public view on the weekends.

The idea for the photo exhibit started when Tim Pownell, president of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club, approached Taylor about chronicling the peace talks through photographs.

The club paid Taylor to take the pictures, and wanted to give them to the town as a gift to remember the event, Taylor said.

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When the talks began, Taylor found herself among hundreds of journalists, television crews and photographers with the same assignment.

And she got her first crash course in working with the media.

She recalled the first time she saw President Clinton in downtown Shepherdstown. As the president arrived, Secret Service agents told everyone to stop.

Taylor halted. None of other media paid any attention.

"Everyone else just kept going," Taylor recalled.

But Taylor got her shots.

The well-known librarian and photographer, with the help of her friends in town, caught people like then-U.S. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin and White House spokesman Joe Lockhart as they made periodic appearances in restaurants and other places in town.

Taylor snapped a picture of Nava Barak, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, on a shopping trip downtown, and caught several of Clinton's appearances downtown on film.

Other photographs in the black-and-white exhibit include Jewish demonstrations, crowds of people who spilled into the streets to witness the event and the giant helicopters that buzzed in and out of the town during the talks.

"I think the helicopters were really amazing. They were just so big and powerful. They were bigger than any I had experienced," Taylor said.

Taylor said working with the throngs of media and White House security was intriguing. The Secret Service agents tracked every movement around the president, who seemed to be having the most fun of all, Taylor said.

Taylor said Clinton seemed relaxed in all his public appearances downtown, but it was obvious the Secret Service agents were stressed, she said.

In her Clinton photographs, she pointed out the Secret Service agents who were staring at her.

"I don't know what they thought was in those cameras," Taylor said.

Taylor's exhibit of about 25 photographs is hanging in a building a 121 German Street. The building was recently renovated and the owner, John Lacey, agreed to display Taylor's pictures until he finds a tenant, Taylor said.

The town is considering making the collection a traveling exhibit, Taylor said. During the West Virginia Wine and Arts Festival in Martinsburg last month, the photographs were exhibited in the Boarman Arts Center.

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