2015 FAC Meeting Notes

Please scroll down to find the Meeting Notes for 2015:
  • December 17, 2015
  • September 17, 2015
  • June 18, 2015
  • March 19, 2015
 
December 17, 2015
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
Federal Advisory Commission Meeting

December 17, 2015
Strasburg Town Hall
174 East King Street
Strasburg, Virginia
1) General Introductions Jim Northup

2) Adoption of Minutes John Adamson

3) Nomination Process Update Jim Northup

4) FY 2016 Budget Update Jim Northup

5) 151st Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek Karen Beck-Herzog

6) Update—Signage/Wayside Project Karen Beck-Herzog

7) Update—Trails Projects Karen Beck-Herzog

8) Update—U.S. 11 Bridge Project Karen Beck-Herzog

9) Update—Vermont Monument Restoration Karen Beck-Herzog

10) Historic Structures Report—Bowman Hite
11) Park Foundation Document Karen Beck-Herzog

12) National Park Service Centennial Karen Beck-Herzog

13) Priorities
Jim Northup/Karen Beck-Herzog

14) New Business

Meeting Notes
Commission members in attendance: Jim Northup, Designated Federal Official (DFO); John Adamson, chair, Belle Grove, Inc.; Karen Beck-Herzog, site manager, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP; Carl Bernhards, Middletown; Dave Blount, Private Landowner; Katie Donahue, USFS; Eric Lawrence, Frederick County; 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: Jeanne Frink, Commonwealth of Virginia and Stanley M. Hirschberg, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF)
Others in attendance: Bob Grogg, NPS Volunteer; Kristen Laise, Belle Grove, Inc.; Rachel Mahoney, Northern Virginia Daily; Dave Stegmaier, District Office, U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock; and Keven Walker, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF);

John Adamson, chair, called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.
Jim Northup announced that Karen Beck-Herzog, who has been acting site manager, has been selected for the permanent position. She is an eighteen-year veteran of the National Park Service. Thirty-two people applied for the position, and Northup interviewed five before making the selection.

John Adamson asked that everyone attending give their name and affiliation. The notes from the last meeting were approved.

Northup reported that he is waiting to hear from the White House and the Department of Interior about the appointment of Paul Coussan, Civil War Trust, to the commission. He is also waiting to hear about the Federal Register Notice seeking representatives for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Shenandoah County, and Strasburg. He announced that Katie Donahue is leaving her Forest Service
position here and heading for a new position in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Though the federal budget has been prepared, the details are unknown. The consensus is that the NPS has done well, and that some additional funding is available for centennial projects. Dave Blount asked if the budget gave any direction about a possible alignment of Virginia parks with National Capital Region. Northup replied that although that talk has quieted down, the idea has not completely gone away.

Karen Beck-Herzog began her presentation by saying how pleased and excited she is to have been selected for the site manager position.


The 151st anniversary went well. The numbers were down from the 150th, but that was expected. Cedar
Creek Battlefield Foundation and Belle Grove shared the profit of
$25,000.

The waysides and signage projects are coming along. The park now has funds for fabrication.

Four park trails pilot projects are proceeding. The Vermont trail is being extended onto the adjacent Claytor property (Claven Lane). The actual route for the trail from the New York monument to Belle Grove is being determined. The Thoburn trail and the trail from the CCBF headquarters to the Heater House are also part of this project.

VDOT will meet with the NPS and partners to discuss that state of the U.S. 11 relocation. The hope is that the project will be advertised in November 2016 for a project to be finished in 2018.

The Vermont monument and the fencing have been cleaned and repaired. Gravel was removed and sod has been laid down. The NPS Historic Preservation and Training Center did the work.

A Historic Structures Report for the Bowman Hite House has been completed. It will be the guide for management and for interpretive programs.

The costs for removing some of the non-historic structures are greater than expected. The Washington Office is looking for either additional funding or considering narrowing the scope of the work. None of the structures has any endangered species that could be adversely affected by removal; nor is any structure within the habitat range of any such species. The NPS is committed to
reducing the footprint of any dilapidated structures, so that scarce renovation funds need not be spent on properties that have no historic integrity or park use. The NPS is working with the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure that any work is done in compliance with laws and regulations. Safety issues and stewardship commitments are keys to doing the right thing as well.
Some commission members suggested that perhaps some buildings might be able to be moved.

A foundation document will be created in 2016 in a one-day workshop for the partners and the FAC. Rob Nieweg suggested that no date be set for the workshop until all the vacancies on the FAC are filled. An individual from the regional office will work with the park, partners, and FAC to produce a draft document. If some members’ positions are not confirmed by the White House and
Department by the time of the workshop, those individuals will still be invited to participate.

The theme of the 2016 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day will be the National Parks (“Find Your Adventure”), and this event will begin the centennial year’s commemorations. The Philadelphia Flower Show will also feature national parks. Specifically Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP will aim to increase awareness of the park in the Washington and Baltimore areas. Locally the park will work with tourism units as well.

Karen Beck-Herzog completed her presentation by saying that she would appreciate hearing from members of the FAC and anyone else what she should be focusing on n the next one to three years. She said her own thoughts on the subject included projects related to infrastructure, education, outreach to the general public and to private landowners within the park and adjacent to
the park boundary, communication, land protection, training, a visitor center site, how to fund a visitor center, and long-term a friends group. This list covers the next 18-24 months for the park staff. She distributed a list of key projects drawn up by the FAC at the December 2014 meeting as a reminder. She stressed that her door will always be open to hear from anyone about the park’s direction. John Adamson said he believed it important that anyone involved with the FAC commit to the park and take part in its programs.

New Business
We have talked about a field trip twice a year. The consensus is that one will take place this next March 2016.

Some commissioners asked about the meeting with the CCBF about the Confederate flag. Jim Northup reported that a candid and open discussion took place. All options are being considered. The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation has respectfully declined to remove the flag from their headquarters. The building is leased to an operator and the foundation has no control over what is sold. Rob
Nieweg confirmed Jim Northup’s report.

The next meeting will be at Middletown Town Hall, March 17, 2016. 9 a.m. John Adamson adjourned the meeting at 10:50 a.m.

Handouts
Agenda
Meeting Notes for September 17, 2015
NPS Budget Fact Sheet
Memo from the NPS Director to Region Directors on the Confederate Flag
Memo from the NPS Director to Cooperating Associations, Partners, and Concessioners
List of park priorities from the December 18, 2014, meeting notes
 

September 17, 2015

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

Federal Advisory Commission Meeting

September 17, 2015

Warren County Government Center

220North Commerce Avenue

Front Royal, Virginia

  1. General Introductions

Jim Northup

  1. Adoption of Minutes

John Adamson

  1. Nomination Process Update

Jim Northup

  1. Update—Site Manager Recruitment

Jim Northup

  1. Update—Fall Operation and Anniversary

Karen Beck-Herzog

  1. Update—Signage/Wayside Project

Karen Beck-Herzog/Jim Northup

  1. Update—Bowman-Hite and Claytor Property Building Removal

Karen Beck-Herzog

  1. Update—Education—Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Results

Karen Beck-Herzog

  1. Update—Trail Projects

Karen Beck-Herzog

  1. Update—U.S. 11 Bridge

  1. National Park Service Budget

Jim Northup/Karen Beck-Herzog

  1. New Business

Meeting Notes

Commission members in attendance: Jim Northup, Designated Federal Official (DFO); John Adamson, Belle Grove, Inc.; Karen Beck-Herzog, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP; Carl Bernhards, Middletown; Dave Blount, Private Landowner; Stanley M. Hirschberg, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF); Eric Lawrence, Frederick County; Lee Meyer, Warren County; Rob Nieweg, National Trust for Historic Preservation; and Nicholas Picerno, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF); and Richard Redmon, Strasburg.

Commission members absent: Katie Donahue, USFS; and Jeanne Frink, Commonwealth of Virginia.

Others in attendance: Adam Gillenwater, Civil War Trust; Kevin Green, Northern Virginia Daily; Bob Grogg, NPS Volunteer; Kristen Laise, Belle Grove, Inc.; and Dave Stegmaier, District Office, U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock.

John Adamson, chair, called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m.

The meeting notes from June 18, 2015, were approved.

Jim Northup announced that the Civil War Trust’s nomination of Paul Coussan to be a member of the commission is awaiting White House and Department of the Interior approval. The nominations for Shenandoah County and the Commonwealth of Virginia need to be published in the Federal Register, as does the second-term nomination for Rick Redmond—Town of Strasburg’s position. One private landowner position remains unfilled.

Amy Bracewell has arrived at Saratoga NHP and is beginning to settle into the job. Karen Beck-Herzog will serve as acting site manager until a permanent replacement is selected. The vacancy announcement is out, and it has closed; 39 applications have been received. Human Resources will begin the screening process. A certificate of those highly qualified—probably about 10 to 12 individuals—will be given to Northup within the next two weeks. He will trim that list to three to five individuals, conduct interviews, check references, and make a selection. The process will take about eight weeks.

Karen Beck-Herzog reported that the visitor contact station will be remain open seven days a week with ranger programs until after the 151st anniversary, October 16-18, 2015. When winter hours begin, the visitor contact station will be open Wednesday through Sunday.

Kirilloff Design in Frederick, Maryland, has been awarded the contracts for the orientation and trailhead waysides as well as the low-profile interpretive waysides.

All the highway signs have now been installed. The appeal for a sign on westbound I-66 has been denied. No additional appeal is possible. Thank you to everyone who participated in getting these signs in the ground and the approvals from VDOT.

The NPS is proposing to remove non-historic structures from the Claytor and Bowman-Hite properties. Different stages of compliance, work with the State Historic Preservation Officer, and archeological work must be completed before the structures can be removed. Part of the analysis on which buildings can be removed is based on determining maintenance needs and how that commitment fits into the prioritization of assets that must be maintained and cared for. This enables the NPS to funnel funds to those projects that demonstrate merit for being preserved. Eventually this means that when all the work—removal and preservation of historic structures—is completed these buildings can be opened to the public

The teacher-ranger-teacher program, which operates for grades K through 12, has gotten underway. Donna Strum, 8th grade teacher at North Fork Middle School designed the curriculum. NPS Rangers will deliver the program in local school classrooms. Park staff are working with park partners to develop cohesive education programs that will be of benefit to teachers and to the park. Every Kid in a Park is a website that opened September 1, 2015; it is aimed at fourth graders. One feature will enable students to print out a certificate, take the certificate to a park, and get a year’s pass. Additional promotional materials are being prepared. The hope is that this will be a way to link parks to school systems without creating a burden for teachers and administrators. This project contributes to the centennial goals that the NPS has established.

The Shenandoah National Park roads crew has done some tree clearing on the Vermont monument trail. The monument and the fencing have been cleaned and refurbished by the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center located at Frederick, MD. Gravel has been removed, and new sod has been laid down.

Right now the rebuilding of the U.S. 11 bridge at Cedar Creek is underfunded by $1million. At the earliest construction can begin in 2017. Excess property will not be disposed of until all work is completed.

Jim Northup and Karen Beck-Herzog spoke about the NPS budget, the different sources of funds, where it goes, how different kinds of money can be spent, and the cycles for requesting future funds. They distributed a Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park NPS Budge Fact Sheet to everyone. The sheet described timelines for developing budgets, the funding sources, and all project based funding.

New Business

Rob Nieweg asked that a future agenda item be a discussion of a permanent visitor center, given that the time for requesting money and actually getting it can be up to five years. Since the members of the commission do not routinely deal with the budgeting process and the NPS bureaucracy, he suggested that a kind tutorial about the various steps—where would a visitor center be, what does NPS policy require, and what questions that should be asked—seems a basic requirement. Northup suggested that this would be a good time since a moratorium on all construction exists. Taking advantage of such a situation would give the commission the time necessary for learning what role they can play in thinking about a permanent visitor center.

Lee Meyer asked for clarification about NPS policy on the Confederate battle flag. How does policy relate to the partners and the parks? Northup said that immediately following the commission meeting there would be a closed meeting among him and the five partners about this very question. The NPS director has written to all superintendents and park partners about flying the flag and about sales items in shops. Northup asked for patience while he and the partners discussed this issue. John Adamson will attend the meeting and he will report back to the commission at the December meeting.

Karen Beck-Herzog announced that the meeting dates for 2016 are:

March 17 Middletown

June 16 Warren County

September 15 Strasburg

December 15 Middletown

John Adamson adjourned the meeting at 10:48 a.m.

The next meeting will be at the Strasburg Town Hall, December 17, 2015 at 9 a.m.

Handouts

Agenda

Meeting Notes for March 19, 2015

Ranger Programs and Activities, 2015

Meeting Schedule for 2016

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove Demolition Project

151st Commemorative Event Program

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park NPS Budge Fact Sheet

 
June 18, 2015
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP
Park Advisory Commission

June 18, 2015
Shared Graphic Identity
  • Final color option presented for comments

Summer Operations
  • Visitor Contact Station at 7 days a week, 9 – 4:30
  • Ranger programs now offered 7 days a week
  • Belle Grove up and running
  • Rangers have been busy planning the summer season of programming (see calendar and program hand out)
  • Also involved in a variety of events
  • Fisher’s Hill reunion picnic event (August 1)
  • ATC biennial conference in Winchester (July)
  • National Trust conference (November)
  • Planning new and different ranger programs – History at Sunset’s will explore Winchester’s cemeteries, emancipation in the post-war Valley, Middletown during the Civil War, The Belle Grove Plantation complex “Looking Beyond the Big House”, Star Fort in Winchester
  • Trying out a night sky event in September with the Shenandoah Astronomical Society on SVBF property (September)
  • Battlefield series on Saturdays will explore a different aspect of the battlefield
Trails
  • Working individually with partner groups to implement pilot projects
  • SHEN trail crew & PATC work on National Trust trail
  • Thoburn
Slavery Interpretation Workshop
  • April 2 – 3, 9-5 at Lord Fairfax Community College
  • Had 40 participants from almost all of our partner organizations
  • Discussed the reasons why the topic of slavery is so difficult to discuss, break down the topic, how best to discuss it, interpretive techniques to integrate slavery into all aspects of the park, and use Belle Grove as a case study to try out our new skills
  • was led by Kristin Gallas from the Tracing Center
  • Already integrating great information and interpretive techniques into programs
  • Have been brainstorming next steps, including future exhibit at Belle Grove, ranger programs on Reconstruction and emancipation, etc.
Appomattox – Bells Across the Land
  • Appomattox Courthouse anniversary on April 9
  • Bells Across the Land – way to commemorate event and symbolic end of the war
  • Asked communities across the nation to ring bells at 3:15pm ET on April 9 for 4 minutes
  • Close to 400 Communities from 45 states and DC participated including 64 educational institutions, 60 national park units. These are just the ones who recorded their events online through social media – could be hundreds of others that participated.
  • Woodstock courthouse, Lutheran Church in Strasburg, New Market (SVBF), Old Courthouse in Winchester, Warren County Courthouse
  • CEBE event at Belle Grove. Great bell ringing event
 
March 19, 2015
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
Federal Advisory Commission Meeting
March 19, 2015
Strasburg Town Hall
174 East King Street Strasburg, Virginia

1) General Introductions John Adamson

2) Adoption of Minutes John Adamson

3) Update—FAC Member Nomination Process Jim Northup

4) Update—Final Trail Management Strategy Amy Bracewell

5) Update—Shared Graphic Identity Amy Bracewell

6) Update—Summer Operations Amy Bracewell

7) Slavery Interpretation Workshop Amy Bracewell

8) Appomattox Anniversary—Bells Across the Land Amy Bracewell

9) Update—National Park Service Centennial Jim Northup

10) NPS Overview John Adamson

11) 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; Eric Lawrence, Frederick County; Nicholas Picerno, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF); and Richard Redmon, Strasburg.

Commission members absent: Katie Donahue, USFS; Stanley M. Hirschberg, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF); Lee Meyer, Warren County; and Rob Nieweg, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Others in attendance: Paul Coussan, Civil War Trust; Wayne Crump, Private Landowner; Michael Duggan, Private Landowner; Bob Grogg, NPS Volunteer; Jered Hoover, Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation; Patrick Kehoe, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation; Kristen Laise, Belle Grove, Inc.; and Dave Stegmaier, District Office, U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock.

John Adamson called the meeting to order at 9:01 a.m. and asked for introductions by everyone present.

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

Jim Northup talked about the state of current nominations to the federal advisory commission. The Civil War Trust, which will now have a seat on the commission, has been asked to nominate a representative. Shenandoah County will also name a replacement for Pam Salokangas. Northup has been trying to reach Jeanne Frink to see if she wishes to continue on the commission. If he continues to be unsuccessful he will approach the state about a replacement. John Adamson reported that the Frinks are on a round-the-world cruise, which must explain why she cannot be reached.

Amy Bracewell announced that the Trails Development Strategy and Management Plan is complete and has been approved by all partners. This is a dynamic, working document. The NPS will work with all partners to implement the pilot projects. The long-term trail corridors will depend on land acquisitions, easements, and private landowner approvals. As trails are developed each will have a trailhead sign with basic information and regulations. The Shenandoah N.P trail crew and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) will be assisting in trail development.

Everyone is reviewing the color options that are now available for the shared graphic identity.

Summer hours will begin March 21, 2015, with the visitor contact station open seven days a week. Belle Grove also opens this weekend with Middletown Appreciation Day. Ranger programs will be weekends only and then daily beginning in mid-June. March 28, 2015, is Civil War Trust Park Day, during which the Vermont Monument will be cleaned up and the CCBF will clean the Entrenchments Trail. History at Sunset programs will feature a variety of topics: Winchester’s cemeteries, emancipation in the postwar Shenandoah Valley, Middletown during the Civil War, “Looking Beyond the Big House” at Belle Grove, and the Star Fort in Winchester. In September there will be a star party at the Thoburn property to celebrate astronomy and the night sky. Park programs are being repackaged since we are seeing that we have almost talked to more groups—Rotary, or example—than to people in park programs. A lecture series is in the works for the fall.

On April 2 and 3, 2015, the Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery will put on a
two-day workshop at Lord Fairfax CC. It is sponsored by Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP and is open to NPS, Belle Grove, and CCBF volunteers and other interested persons.

Bells Across the Land, which marks the events at Appomattox Court House April 9, 1865, has
participants lined up in 27 states and 23 parks. The Liberty Bell will be ceremoniously tapped.
Communities across the country are being asked to ring their bells at 315 p.m. Locally bells will be rung in Woodstock, Strasburg, New Market, Winchester, and Front Royal.

Jim Northup reported that momentum for the NPS centennial is building. He will be able to report on concrete proposals at the next meeting.

John Adamson talked about how the park and the FAC are moving into a new phase. Generally he expressed the concerns that FAC members may not be fully aware of nor familiar with NPS policies and procedures. What initiatives are in the works? How does the budget process work? What is research in the NPS? In other words, if the commissioners were better acquainted with or somewhat knowledgeable about the workings of the NPS all members would be able to perform their duties better. Perhaps a Parks 101 would be good for the commissioners, say ten minutes on a given topic at each FAC meeting?

Northup replied that not every park is a partnership, so there are not readily available packages of information to answer these questions or to provide the education that is needed. All agreed, however, that talking about the history, budget, and the organization are topics that should be addressed, and perhaps in the next three FAC meetings. Other topics would be to investigate how other partnership parks operate, what are creative funding sources, and the role of Friends’ groups.

Old Business
None

New Business
Jim Northup said that he wanted the commissioners to know about a letter that he had received Tuesday, March 17, 2015, signed by Northeast Regional Director Mike Caldwell and National Capital Regional Director Bob Vogel. Northup began with some background on the two regions managed by Caldwell and Vogel. National Capital Region manages twenty-six parks in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Northeast Region manages seventy-three parks in the thirteen states from Virginia and West Virginia to Maine. The letter advised the superintendents of parks inVirginia that the National Park Service Director is considering realigning regional boundaries along state lines. Such a realignment would mean that no longer would parks within the same state be administered by two different regional offices. Some people find this situation confusing. This would mean, if adopted, that all parks in Virginia would leave the Northeast Region and become part of National Capital Region. The status of parks in Maryland and West Virginia is being considered. The Director has asked that he receive comments on the proposal in May. A decision will be made in June. If the Director decides that the Virginia parks will join National Capital Region, the move will become effective October 1, 2015, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Commission members had questions about how they might state their sense of the appropriateness of the realignment. A consensus developed that at the moment no one had enough information to make an informed decision, either against or in support of the proposed move. They asked that Northup keep chair John Adamson informed of all developments. Adamson, in turn, would let members know what he has learned and would call a special meeting of the FAC if he deemed it necessary.

The next meeting will be at the Middletown Town Hall, June 18, 2015, at 9 a.m.

John Adamson adjourned the meeting at 10:19 a.m.

Handouts
Agenda
Meeting Notes for March 19, 2015
Trail Development Strategy and Management Plan
2015 National Park Service Special Events Calendar

Last updated: January 11, 2018

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