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Advocate says historical research committee needed

February 11, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A historic preservation advocate asked the Berkeley County Commissioners on Thursday that a committee be formed to research sites for historical significance before they are built on or developed.

"We're losing valuable history," said Keith Stewart, lead advocate for the West Virginia Coalition for Historic Preservation.

During his discussion with the commissioners, Stewart talked about the Battle of Falling Waters during the Civil War.

In the battle, which occurred July 2, 1861, it is estimated that 20,000 Union troops and 3,500 to 6,000 Confederate troops met each other.

The battle, which occurred in an area near the intersection of W.Va. 901 and U.S. 11, lasted two hours. Although estimates on the number of casualties vary, it is believed about 100 soldiers killed on both sides, Stewart said.

Chuck Walker, a Martinsburg resident who has been trying to save the battlefield, said a battlefield protection organization examined the local battlefield in 1990 and determined that the site was in danger of being lost to development.

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But instead of any effort being launched to save the battlefield, development instead has steadily crept through the area.

Stewart suggested to the commissioners that a committee or advisory group be formed to research areas for historical significance.

County Commissioner Howard Strauss suggested that a way to address protection of historical sites is through a comprehensive plan for the county, which is currently being developed. Strauss suggested that Stewart get involved in developing the plan.

The commissioners also discussed using farmland protection money as a way to save historic sites.

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