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Organization asks for loan to convert schoolhouse

December 08, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A group planning to convert a former schoolhouse in Cearfoss to an education center that would offer a driving tour of the Confederate retreat of 13,000 wounded soldiers from Gettysburg, Pa., asked the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday for a $60,000 low-interest loan to help purchase the property.

Rick Lank and Rebecca Rush of the nonprofit Forest Glen Commonwealth Inc. said the organization plans to create a Regional Heritage Education and History Technology Center at the school at Greencastle and Cearfoss pikes.

The school property is the site of an attack on a "Wagon Train of the Wounded" by Union Cavalry regiments, according to information supplied by Forest Glen. The train, carrying injured soldiers from Gettysburg, included stops in Cearfoss and Williamsport.

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Forest Glen has a contract to purchase the building, which Rush said would cost $300,000.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the county would consider Forest Glen's loan request. He said first the group must apply to the county to be on a list of groups eligible to receive county money.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said after the meeting that the county holds public hearings for groups that apply to be on that list.

"Just because they're on the list doesn't mean they're going to get funding," said Wivell, who also said the county has the option of not adding groups to the list.

Wivell said groups should apply to the Washington County Gaming Commission for money.

"I really think that's the direction most of these groups ought to go," he said.

Snook asked Lank and Rush to submit the group's business plan to the county.

The education center offerings would include tours, speakers, special annual events, weekend sutlery, preservation workshops and possible virtual tours of historic places.

He said Forest Glen hopes to draw tourists visiting Gettysburg to the education center.

The education center might eventually grow to 75,000 visits a year, according to the organization.

Forest Glen, founded in 1999, also works with local public and private schools by holding educational programs. The group has partnerships with the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, U.S. Library of Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and the Washington County Association of Museums and Historic Sites.

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