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Jefferson County undecided on support for battlefield site

November 05, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The Jefferson County Commission remains undecided on whether it will give $100,000 to help save a Civil War battlefield near Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The issue was on the commission's agenda last Thursday, but no action was taken, Commissioner Greg Corliss said.

"It's unresolved at this point," Corliss said Sunday.

Although there was overwhelming support for county funding for the battlefield at a public hearing last Tuesday, there also was concern about spending taxpayer money on such a project, especially with gambling revenue possibly at risk and other troubling issues in the economy.

Corliss said the concerns reflect a "myopic" view that does not address the long-range of needs of the county, which included preserving open space.

People who have raised concerns about the county helping to preserve the battlefield are looking at more short-term goals in relation to their "own particular situation," Corliss said.

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When asked how he thinks the rest of the commission feels about the county spending money to help save the battlefield, Corliss said, "flip a coin."

At last Tuesday's hearing, Commissioner Dale Manuel proposed that the commission consider lowering the amount of money it would spend on the battlefield.

The battlefield site, which has been eyed for residential development, at one time had a price tag of $3.6 million.

Members of a local organization trying to save the battlefield, the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc., have been raising money in an attempt to purchase the site.

The battle fought in Shepherdstown on Sept. 19 and 20, 1862, brought to an end the Army of Northern Virginia's Maryland Campaign and was a significant factor in Gen. Robert E. Lee's decision to retreat deeper into the Shenandoah Valley.

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