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$100,000 set aside for W.Va. battlefield

Jefferson Co. Commissioners vote to back site

Jefferson Co. Commissioners vote to back site

November 15, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. ? Although two commissioners expressed concern about allocating the money and said it was a "terrible way to manage money," the Jefferson County Commission voted 4-1 Thursday to set aside $100,000 to show support for saving a Civil War battlefield near Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Commissioner Greg Corliss, who voted to set aside the money, said it only was done to support the idea of preserving the site.

The commission would have to take another vote to spend the money on any attempt to purchase the battlefield, Corliss said.

The battle, fought Sept. 19 and 20, 1862, south of Shepherdstown off Trough Road, 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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The battle involved 9,000 troops and 640 casualties, said Ed Dunleavy of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc., an organization that has been attempting to save the site.

Part of the site has been eyed for development, and the asking price for that property at one time was $3.6 million.

Dunleavy told the commission Thursday that 84 acres of the battlefield area have been preserved, and the easements that preserve those tracts along with grant money that already has been obtained for possible purchase of land are valued at $644,000.

Dunleavy said Thursday he wanted the commission to pitch in another $644,000.

Although the commission did not set aside that much, Commission President Frances Morgan said she believed it was time for the commission to make a decision on funding, and said she believed it was a worthy project.

While he supports historic preservation, Commissioner Dale Manuel ? the only commissioner to vote against the allocation ? said he was concerned about earmarking money for the battlefield when there are many other needs in the county.

Commissioner Rusty Morgan said he is concerned about the county's financial situation, and although he voted to set aside the $100,000, Morgan said he did not feel it was a good time to act on the issue.

Morgan called the allocation a "terrible way to manage our money."

The discussion was heated at times, and Corliss, who supports saving the battlefield, pounded his fist on the table, pushing the commission to vote on the allocation.

Although no land at the battlefield site is for sale now, Dunleavy said he wants battlefield supporters to be ready for a sale.

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