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Shepherdstown battlefield ballot idea is shot down

November 09, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Jefferson County commissioner's suggestion to gauge Shepherdstown battlefield preservation support using primary election ballots met little support from his peers Thursday.

"It's actually democracy at its purest form. ... Give them an opportunity to have their voices heard," Commissioner Dale Manuel said.

At issue is whether to make a $100,000 commitment to a Civil War battlefield proposed for possible acquisition by the federal government.

Commissioner Jim Surkamp made a motion to put the money in a designated capital fund, but the matter was ultimately tabled for the week with commissioners asking for further information.

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Surkamp said putting the money in a fund would be "a demonstration of good faith" for the federal representatives to see.

"I looked at the video lottery numbers for October. ... We're ahead of the past two years," Surkamp said.

Commissioner Greg Corliss said the federal government might buy the property and never pull from the $100,000.

It could be considered a savings account, he said.

"If this is going to be a federal park, I think the federal government needs to put money in," Commissioner Rusty Morgan said.

"If you don't peg something at the local level ... that's an indication there isn't community support," Commissioner Frances Morgan said.

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.

Historians say 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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