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Commission hears update on mill

By Staff | Nov 25, 2011

CHARLES TOWN – The Jefferson County Commission, which in previous years had pledged $100,000 to the acquisition of historic property near Shepherdstown, will make a decision at its Dec. 1 meeting on whether to use $25,000 to help in the purchase.

The property, site of parts of the Battle of Shepherdstown and home to an historic cement mill, is privately owned and has been appraised at approximately $339,000. It was previously believed that the selling price would be around $400,000, but after more than a year of negotiations, the purchase price is now $375,000, according to Martin Burke with the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission.

Money the commission might commit would not necessarily be gone from the county’s coffers forever, because Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, has stated his willingness to use a $25,000 Community Participation Grant to reimburse the county if it decides to pay the $25,000.

Money from Doyle’s Community Participation Grant would not be available until six months from now at the earliest, however. Doyle also played a part in securing two $100,000 grants from the West Virginia Division of Highways, but those will expire at the end of this year if the purchase is not made.

“I very much want to see this purchase made, and I’m willing to do that if that’s what has to be done in order to accomplish it,” Doyle said in a phone interview Thursday.

During the commission’s June 23 meeting, commissioners Patsy Noland, Dale Manuel and Walt Pellish voted to rescind the commission’s previous commitment of $100,000, while commissioners Lyn Widmyer and Frances Morgan voted against rescinding the commitment.

“My memory is not perfect, but I think I remember this room being packed to the gills one evening, with everyone testifying positively in favor of this commission spending $100,000 on this exact project to finish it and get it in the hands of the public,” Morgan said, in reference to a public hearing held on the issue earlier this year, during the meeting.

Pellish, however, said that since the commission voted to rescind its commitment he has not heard any complaints or negative comments from the public. Pellish represents the Shepherdstown magisterial district on the county commission.

The Jefferson County Commission will vote on whether or not to use $25,000 from its account designated specifically for this purchase at its Dec. 1 meeting. Other organizations contributing funding to the purchase include the Civil War Trust, the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association and the JCHLC.