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Letters to the editor for 6/16

June 16, 2002

Miller House changes not for the better


To the editor:

An open letter to the Board of Directors of the Washington County Historical Society:

Since I am a life member as well as a longtime member of the Washington County Historical Society, I feel qualified to ask some questions about some of the recent activities of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society.

But first I want to congratulate Mendy Marsden and Elizabeth Graff for their very personal interest and the many fine exhibits they have put together at the Miller House in the past.

Why would the board of directors want to employ a full-time curator at an added expense, when Elizabeth Graff with a degree in Fine Arts has done a magnificent job as a part time curator?

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I am calling on all Historical Society members to become active, ask questions and investigate for yourself.

Since the Historical Society headquarters is at the Miller House and it is a semipublic building, why has the board not made the Miller House handicapped acceptable?

The building to the east has an elevator and could be bought. Doors could be cut in the side of each building and a short bridge from the building on the east side to the Miller House built to make the elevator accessible for handicapped people to participate in more activities at the Miller House.

The brick walk in the back yard has sloping shoulders making walking very difficult. Why have the shoulders not been replaced?

Several years ago there were fine flagstones in the garden. Where are they now?

What has happened to the typical vegetable garden? Where is the cucumber pump, which was quite an asset to the yard? Where are the garden gates?

The formal part of the garden was beautifully planted with English Boxwood. Why was it removed? All it needed was professional pruning. Another variety has been planted and will need professional pruning, and I hope not removed.

A former member left quite a sum of money for the exclusive use in the garden and dedicated it to her husband, the late Victor Miller Jr.

The parlors in the house had the furniture very beautifully and appropriately arranged. Why has that all been changed? For a short time, believe it or not, somebody had the piano removed and placed in the dining room, but fortunately that is back in the parlor where it belongs.

Why has the blue Persian rug been removed from the floor?

Two members of the board of directors are quite knowledgeable about historical objects and placement of same, but apparently the majority who are apparently not historically knowledgeable overrules them.

A circa 1904 period at the Beaver Creek School and Museum, the late Catherine Beachley was the original curator of the schoolroom and very carefully had double desks, a pot bellied stove, vintage slates and many early school books placed in the room. This should not be changed.

In the museum room the late Mary Kneisley Bowman and the late Ethel Hoffman Snyder and I collected and arranged many objects used in the home and on the farm as well as clothes children and adults wore. Special exhibits are frequently held in the summer. In order to display many items and keep them from dust or damaged by touching I personally had cabinets built at no cost to the Historical Society.

I spend 20 years, during the three summer months that the museum was open, as a docent. Mary Jo Wellman would help at various times for special exhibits.

I am requesting at this time that the members of the board of directors of the Historical Society leave things as they are now. I am physically unable to act as a curator or docent at Beaver Creek Museum but Mary Jo Wellman, at my request, has graciously accepted to carry on what I started.

Please all Washington County Historical Society Members, get interested and see that the board does not make historically incorrect decisions.

The board of directors of the Historical Society needs different leadership, like we had when Ralph Donnelly was president. Thanks to Ralph for all of his help and guidance.

Louise Funk Beachley

Hagerstown




This time, government growth is justified


By Philip Baker-Shenk

Some things are never forgettable. Remember when you first heard or saw the Sept. 11 attacks? When the shuttle Challenger blew up? When Dr. Martin Luther King was gunned down? When President John F. Kennedy was shot?

In a split second, you felt two things. Shocked compassion for those directly in harm's way. And fear and concern for your own safety and that of your friends and family.

That is why President George W. Bush has said the most important part of his job is to protect and defend the American people.

Since Sept. 11, President Bush has been pushing all levels of government to cooperate like never before to strengthen aviation and border security, stockpile more medicines to defend against bioterrorism, improve information sharing among our intelligence agencies and deploy more resources and personnel to protect our critical infrastructure.

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