2014 FAC Meeting Notes

Please scroll down to find the Meeting Notes for 2016:
  • December 18, 2014
  • September 18, 2014
  • June 19, 2014
  • March 20, 2014
December 18, 2014
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
Federal Advisory Commission Meeting
December 18, 2014
Warren County Government Center
220 North Commerce Avenue
Front Royal, Virginia

1. General Introductions
Jim Northup, Designated Federal Officer
2. Adoption of Minutes
John Adamson, Chairman
3. 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek
Amy Bracewell
4. Update—Planning/Development of park trails
Amy Bracewell
5. Update—Shared graphic identity
Amy Bracewell
6. Update—Winter Operations
Amy Bracewell
7. Recognition for Congressman Wolf
Jim Northup
8. Wayside Planning
Amy Bracewell
9. Route 11 bridge
Jim Northup
10. General Management Plan Review—Discussion of park priorities
Amy Bracewell
11. Nomination Process—Citizen Interest Group
Jim Northup

New Business
Meeting Notes
Commission members in attendance: Jim Northup, Designated Federal Official (DFO); John Adamson, Belle Grove, Inc.; Carl Bernhards, Middletown; Dave Blount, Private Landowner; Amy Bracewell, NPS; Stanley M. Hirschberg, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF); Lee Meyer, Warren County; Rob Nieweg, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Nicholas Picerno, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF); and Richard Redmon, Strasburg.

Commission members absent: Katie Donahue, USFS; Eric Lawrence, Frederick County;

Others in attendance: Paul Coussan, Civil War Trust; Bob Grogg, NPS volunteer; Kristen Laise, Belle Grove, Inc.; Dave Stegmaier, District Office, U.S. Representative Frank Wolf; Keven Walker, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF)

John Adamson called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m. After introductions by everyone, Adamson welcomed Keven Walker the newly named head of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. Walker expressed his interest in working with the park, noting that both he and his wife are descended from men who fought at Cedar Creek. His wife’s family had been tenant farmers at Belle Grove.

The meeting notes from September 18, 2014, were approved.

Amy Bracewell gave a summary of the 150th anniversary event. Everyone was well pleased with how well things went. The partners and the NPS all deserve congratulations for the collaborative and cooperative nature of the undertaking. The casualty list prepared by Mike Kehoe drew a large number of people. The four days saw approximately 6,000 reenactors, 6,500 paid spectators, and 6,500 participants at NPS programs. Belle Grove had 70 living history interpreters, and more than 750 students from local schools toured the house and grounds on the Friday before the main events. The Civil War Trust announced the acquisition of 6.7 acres in Middletown, and the SVBF acquired an easement on 179 acres. CSPAN provided extensive coverage of the anniversary.

Some parking issues at the end of the day need to be studied so future events will not repeat that situation.

A shared management document is in the final draft for establishing guidelines for the construction on trails in the park. This report particularly looks at the types of trails and the types of users. Road bikes and horses will not be allowed on park trails. The trail to the Vermont Monument is completed and has temporary markers. The Shenandoah N.P. trail crew cleared and installed a trail on Belle Grove property. SVBF also prepared a mowed trail on the Thoburn property for the anniversary events.

The final version of the shared graphic identity has gone to all partners. Final comments are due December 19, 2014. This graphic can be used on anything that talks about the parks as a whole. This is a unifying device that says “you are in the same place, a place managed by different entities but with unifying themes.” Color options are still to be determined.
Winter operations have gone into effect. The visitor contact station is open Wednesday through Sunday. Belle Grove is operating on a holiday schedule and will be closed after January 1, 2015, until spring. The park had 81,000 visitors in FY2014—compared to 52,000 in FY2013. The visitor contact station had 4,700 visitors in FY2014 and 3,000 in FY2013.
The ceremony on November 7, 2014, recognizing Congressman Frank Wolf’s service to this district was very gratifying. Kristen Laise and Jim Northup presented an arrowhead plaque to the congressman on behalf of the park and the partners.

The park has received funding to produce an interpretive wayside plan and a separate park signage plan. The plan will determine where the different kinds of signs will go and what the purpose of each one will be.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has been directed by the governor’s office to use the northbound alignment of the Route 11 bridge. VDOT will re-engineer and re-design the bridge. Discussions will take place on how the abandoned right-of-way will be used.

John Adamson noted that the park has completed some of the tasks and projects identified in the General Management Plan (GMP). So this is a good time to think about the future, and about which tasks the FAC should recommend that the NPS should focus on in the future. The group came up with a short-term and a long-term list, and then they voted on their top priorities. Each commissioner had three votes for short-term priorities and two votes for long-term priorities. The number of votes is listed after each item.

Short Term
  • Private property owner outreach 5
  • Natural Resource Catalog 3
  • Investigate boundary modification 3
  • Interpretive Planning 3
  • Forming friends group 3
  • Coordinated interpretive program 2
  • Cooperative agreements 2
  • NPS centennial (2016) 1
  • Viewshed analysis 1
  • Information connectivity plan 1
  • National Registry nominations
  • Trails
  • Wayside creation
  • Logo
  • Historical research
Long Term
  • Land protection (acquisition & easements) 6
  • Archeology Plan 3
  • Permanent visitor center 3
  • Landscape treatment plan 2
  • Develop Shared Resource Strategy 1
Jim Northup talked about the open seats on the commission, of which there are four: Commonwealth of Virginia, a private landowner, Shenandoah County, and a citizen interest group. It is the responsibility of Jim Northup to submit nominations to the Secretary of Interior for approval. The park has made contact with the governor’s office on possible recommendations for the Commonwealth seat. The park will also ask Shenandoah County to nominate a replacement for Pam Salokangas. No other private landowners have come forward to express interest in serving on the commission. Some commissioners have approached Northup with suggestions about naming a citizen interest group. He asked the group for a formal recommendation for his consideration. Nick Picerno nominated the Civil War Trust. Stan Hirschberg seconded the motion, and commissioners unanimously recommended that the Civil War Trust be approached about having a seat on the commission.

New Business
Rob Nieweg requested that the commission extend a thank you to Pam Salokangas for her contribution to the commission and the park. John Adamson will write a thank you on behalf of the commission.

Jim Northup told everyone that Katie Donahue was absent because in the previous week she had given birth to baby girl, Eyla Maeve Donahue. The commission expressed its congratulations to Katie.

John Adamson adjourned the meeting at 11:05 a.m.

Meeting Notes for September 18, 2014
June 19, 2014
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
Federal Advisory Commission Meeting
June 19, 2014
Strasburg Town Hall
174 East King Street Strasburg, Virginia

1) General Introductions Patrick Farris

2) Adoption of Minutes

3) Status of FAC Member/Nomination Process Jim Northup

4) New Park Brochure Amy Bracewell

5) Highway Direction Signs Amy Bracewell

6) Summer Programs Amy Bracewell

7) Volunteer Program Amy Bracewell

8) Shared Graphic Identity Amy Bracewell

9) Planning/Development of Park Trails Amy Bracewell

10) U.S. 11 Bridge Project Jim Northup

11) I-81 Bridge Replacement Jim Northup

12) 150th Nnniversary Amy Bracewell

13) NPS Centennial Planning Amy Bracewell

14) Future Land Protection Amy Bracewell

15) Recognition for Congressman Wolf Amy Bracewell

16) New Business

Meeting Notes
Commission members in attendance: Jim Northup, Designated Federal Official (DFO);
John Adamson, Belle Grove, Inc.; Carl Bernhards, Middletown; Amy Bracewell, NPS; Stanley M. Hirschberg, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF); Eric Lawrence, Frederick County; Rob Nieweg, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Nicholas Picerno, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF); Richard Redmon, Strasburg; and Pam Salokangas, Shenandoah County.

Commission members absent: Katie Donahue, USFS; Patrick Farris, Warren County and chair; and Jeanne Frink, Commonwealth of Virginia

Others in attendance: Mary Bowser, private landowner and former FAC member; Bob Grogg, NPS volunteer; Kristen Laise, Belle Grove, Inc.; Dave Stegmaier, District Office,
U.S. Representative Frank Wolf; Julia Vermeulen, National Trust for Historic Preservation

In the absence of Chair Patrick Farris, Vice-chair Pam Salokangas opened the meeting at 8:37 a.m. Salokangas asked that everyone present give their name and affiliation.

The meeting notes from March 20, 2014, were approved.

Northup reported that all member nominations have cleared the White House and have been sent to the Department of the Interior. He hopes that all approvals will be in hand by the next FAC meeting. All current members and officers will remain in place until all approvals are received at the park.

The new park brochure has been printed, shipped, and the copies have arrived. Thanks to everyone who participated in this process.

The highway signs are being installed. It turns out the CCBF signs are about to be installed in the wrong location; Virginia Logos will check on getting this corrected. Northup and Bracewell will meet with Chief Engineer Burgess in Richmond about the I-66 sign.

At the end of March, operations began running seven days per week. Visitation is
growing, and programs are given daily. Two seasonals—Kyle Rothemich and Chris Nelson—have returned from previous years and two others—Jeff Driscoll and Susan Merila—have been hired. History at Sunset programs will begin the end of June.

Twenty-two of last year’s 25 volunteers have returned for this season. Some additional persons may be needed for the 150th anniversary programs. An orientation program for everyone was given in March.

Bracewell and Northup met with Irene Kirilloff, a graphic designer, to talk about the shared
graphic identity. The micro purchase program was used to speed getting the designer involved. She will create three unique concepts for a starting point for discussion by mid-July. Once she has comments on the three concepts she will work to make one final approach and produce a vector file, which can be used at any size.

The Shenandoah NP trail crew marked the Vermont Monument and the Belle Grove entrenchments trails April 28, 2014. Currently we need to work through the various compliance issues—environmental, historic, and endangered flora—need to be addressed and resolved. There are no rare plants to avoid, but the regional office does have concerns about disturbance of archeological remains. Neither horses nor mountain bikes will be allowed on any trails. The park is currently working with Ursula Lemanski on an overall trail strategy document; a draft is being reviewed. The plan will address what the trails will look like, the surface material used, and policy and maintenance issues implemented. The Vermont trail will serve as a pilot project.

The NPS and partners met with VDOT about the U.S. 11 bridge. VDOT explained that the changes requested would increase costs by $1.5 million. They will work to make the structure more “NPS-like.” Generally the NPS is satisfied with this process. VDOT is listening to us, but also has to listen to local emergency services and governments. The idea is to keep working with all participants.

There has been no recent activity on the I-81 bridge. VDOT is trying to determine if the bridge
needs to be replaced or just repaired. A consultant has been hired to undertake such a study given that all state budgets are tight. This situation raises the question about whether the park should have a comprehensive infrastructure plan, so policies and positions would be place before situations about roads arose. This might be a means for finding out what is in the works for I-81 generally. It could raise the visibility of the park with VDOT, build on the goodwill generated with the Staunton office on the U.S. 11 project, and promote the sensitive nature of park preservation issues and those issues to VDOT.

The plans for the 150th anniversary are moving well along. CCBF and Belle Grove are working on agreements for ticketing, shuttles, and programming. Belle Grove has received a grant from the Virginia Tourism office for placing ads in local media. Though VDOT owns the Ramseur Monument, the park and partners will work together and with4
VDOT to restore and preserve the monument. The Historic Preservation Training Center
in Frederick, Maryland will do the work.

Planning is underway for the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016. The National Park Foundation is taking the lead on promoting the commemoration, which will have six to eight “signature events.” Locally the park and partners should use the opportunity to establish goals on improving visitor service improvements. This should also be a time we all talk about how best to connect with the communities and to reach all audiences. A video prepared by Grey Advertising of New York City on the NPS and the upcoming anniversary was shown.

Bracewell, Northup, and Picerno briefly talked about land protection and a Department of Historic Resources symposium on contemporary battlefield conservation and management that they had attended in Richmond. “Once land is gone, it is gone.” Talks with the Civil War Trust on preserving land inside and outside the park will continue.

With the retirement of Congressman Frank Wolf at the end of this congress, the park and partners want to think of a way in whish they can honor him for the support he has given over the years. Perhaps if he can come to the 150th events that would be an appropriate time to honor him. WASO is planning an event for him that will include all the parks in his district. Anyone who has ideas should email Bracewell.

New Business
Bracewell presented a new schedule for FAC meetings through December 17, 2015. The
proposed schedule was approved and the starting time changed to 9 a.m. The meetings will be:
September 18, 2014, Middletown Town Hall
December 18, 2014, Warren County Government Center
March 19, 2015, Strasburg Town Hall
June 18, 2015, Middletown Town Hall
September 17, 2015, Warren County Government Center
December 17, 2016, Strasburg Town Hall

Nick Picerno announced that Keven Walker from Antietam NB has taken a job with the
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and the new Chief Executive Officer.

There was a question about a possible Jubal Early monument in Middletown. Evidently it is an idea that has been around for some time, but the current mayor has made mention of it. Very little information is available at this time.

Belle Grove is having a variety of programs currently in keeping with the 150th

The SVBF will be having a fundraiser at the George Washington Hotel in Winchester,
September 19, the anniversary of the battle of third Winchester. The next day will feature a
descendants reception.

Shenandoah County has received a donation of 300 acres.

Pam Sheets announced that she has recently married and that her last name is now Salokangas.

The next meeting will be at the Middletown Town Hall, September 18, 2014, at 9 a.m.

Pam Salokangas adjourned the meeting at 10:20 a.m.

Meeting Notes for March 20, 2014
Suggested Meeting Schedule through December 17, 2015
Letter from Matt Dana, Stanton District Location and Design Engineer, VDOT
150th Anniversary Guest Lecture Series
History at Sunset News Release
March 20, 2014
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
Federal Advisory Commission Meeting
March 20, 2014
Warren County Government Center
220 North Commerce Avenue Front Royal, Virginia

1) General Introductions
Patrick Farris, Chair, Advisory Commission

2) Adoption of Minutes
Patrick Farris

3) Update – Status of FAC Members/Nomination Process Jim

4) Update – New park brochure
Amy Bracewell

5) Update – Highway directional signs
Amy Bracewell

6) Update – Upcoming Season Operations
Amy Bracewell

7) Update – Shared graphic identity
Amy Bracewell

8) Update – Planning/Development of park trails Amy

11) Update – Route 11 bridge project
Jim Northup

12) I-81 Bridge Replacement
Jim Northup

13) Update - 150th Anniversary planning
Amy Bracewell

14) Planning for future land protection
Amy Bracewell

Meeting Notes
Commission members in attendance: Jim Northup, Designated Federal Official (DFO);
John Adamson, Belle Grove, Inc.; Carl Bernhards, Middletown; Amy Bracewell, NPS; Patrick Farris, Warren County and chair; Stanley M. Hirschberg, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF); Eric Lawrence, Frederick County; Pam Sheets, Shenandoah County; Rob Nieweg, National Trust for Historic Preservation; and Richard Redmon, Strasburg

Commission members absent: Katie Donahue, USFS; Jeanne Frink, Commonwealth of
Virginia; and Nicholas Picerno, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF).

Others in attendance: Matt Armstrong, Winchester Star; David Blount, landowner; Paul
Coussan, Civil War Trust; Bob Grogg, NPS volunteer; Kristen Laise, Belle Grove, Inc.; and Dave Stegmaier, District Office, U.S. Representative Frank Wolf.

Chair Patrick Farris opened the meeting at 8:37 a.m. Farris asked that everyone present give their name and affiliation.

The meeting notes from December 19, 2013, were approved with corrections.

Jim Northup announced that the election of new officers would wait until all new commission members had been approved and seated.

Amy Bracewell reported that the new park brochure has been sent to the printer early in March. The print run is for 10,000 copies and they will be delivered early in the summer.

Virginia Logos has reviewed the contract for the production of the highway signs and approved it. The installation should be sometime in July. The location for a possible sign on I-66 is being submitted to VDOT; a decision should be forthcoming soon.

Bracewell has spoken with a designer about whether she can take on the identity assignment. If this approach does not work, then a contract will be sent out for bids.

On March 22, 2014, the visitor contact station will be open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Ranger programs will begin March 23, with daily programs getting underway in June. Belle Grove, Hupps Hill and CCBF will also be going to full schedule around the same time. All parties aim to have better communications about their operations, and all will count all visitors. Last year saw 48,000 visitors. We will be watching closely this year to see if the impact of the signs can be determined.

Trail work has been delayed several times by the weather. All hope that it can get going during April. The park staff will meet with Ursula Lemanski to get the report and planning going. Katie Donahue will be assisting to give a forester’s view of the project. The Shenandoah NP trail crew will arrive on March 21 to flag and line out the Vermont Monument trail. At this time the trail will not be accessible. This first effort will be for a cleared and level pathway, but with no extreme cutting or paving. Making this trail accessible at sometime in the future will remain on the table.

The U.S. 11 bridge reconstruction remains a concern. VDOT will meet with the key partners, and all are hoping that the letters to VDOT and the concerns of the SVBF will be heard. A meeting in the Staunton office of VDOT is anticipated sometime in April.

Replacement of the northbound bridge on I-81, though farther in the future than the U.S. 11 bridge, also has concerns. A letter has been sent to VDOT that the lands that VDOT proposes taking for the replacement were purchased with Land and Water Conservation Funds, and such purchases come with restrictions. The National Trust is seeking consulting party status for approaching VDOT on this work and urges all other keypartners to do the same. Such status will give those who have it a greater voice in the discussions.

Planning for the 150th events proceeds with meetings taking place monthly. Almost 500 people showed up for the History Mobile at Lord Fairfax CC in February. Director Jonathan Jarvis, Representative Frank Wolf, and Governor Terry McAuliffe have all been invited to the local events commemorating the 150th battle of Cedar Creek. The planners are working on shared ticketing, raising awareness of the events, a lecture series, and working with the Smithsonian Institution. Belle Grove, CCBF, and Kernstown are asking for $55,000 from Frederick County, $10,000 from Winchester, $1,000 from Middletown, and $3,000 from Strasburg to assist in the events that will be planned. All these entities insist on and require accurate reporting of how the money is used and the amount of matching funds that are raised. The park is also working with the Shenandoah Search and Rescue and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club to plan an anniversary associated trail hike to Signal Knob. The
partners are also working on an education day for area fourth graders that will take place on
Friday on the Belle Grove property.

The park, the key partners, and the Civil War Trust have been having ongoing discussions on future land protection. Any future land preservation through acquisition depends solely on willing sellers. The group talked about the high value properties that need to be protected, the role of easements, which avenues for preservation need to be encouraged, and working to identify what each individual landowner’s concerns are. The FAC can provide valuable advice on preservation outside the park boundaries. The group will meet with quarry officials at some future date. The park and partners express their thanks to the Civil War Trust for its vast experience in the field and for all the land that the Trust has purchased.

There was no new business.

The next meeting will be June 19 at the Strasburg Town Offices.
Patrick Farris adjourned the meeting at 9:38 a.m.


Last updated: January 12, 2018

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