2011: In Review
As 2011 draws to a close and we reflect on the passing of another year, the Chronicle has put together a list of 10 news stories that characterize Shepherdstown in 2011.
Though 2012 will mark the official 250th year of Shepherdstown, the celebration launched its yearlong series of events along with the annual Christmas in Shepherdstown kickoff in December. The launch featured a special address by Mayor Jim Auxer as well as a special 250-themed ice sculpture installation, among other events.
Freedom’s Run returned in 2011 and once again attracted thousands from around the globe to the Shepherdstown area. This year, though met with chillier temperatures and rain, the run maintained its positive mission. Organized by Mark Cucuzzella and Lois Turco, Freedom’s Run is billed as a run for health and heritage. The marathon, which runs through four national parks and concludes in historic Shepherdstown, continued its quest to marry the promotion of physical activity with appreciation for the region’s unique history.
Morgan’s Grove Rezoning vote
The Jefferson County Commission voted to refuse a request to rezone property owned by local resident Peter Corum, located just outside of Shepherdstown beside Morgan’s Grove Park. In a decision that drew attention from news organizations all over the region, the Jefferson County Commission eventually sided with a vocal group of Shepherdstown residents, Mayor Jim Auxer and the Shepherdstown Planning Commission who all wrote letters or spoke out in an effort to sway the commissioners to vote against the request. Community Club President Mike Austin was instrumental in raising awareness about the possible rezoning and has since led an effort to start a Friends of Morgan’s Grove Park group to further preserve and protect the park.
Cement Mill Purchased
After months of effort, the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission purchased the “Cement Mill” property located along River Road in Shepherdstown. The acquisition was made possible in part by a grant secured by Del. John Doyle and contributions from various local and regional organizations.
Historic districts go Solar
In April, the Shepherdstown Planning Commission approved a permit for resident Nathaniel Hitt to place photovoltaics on his garage, making Hitt one of the first residents to have solar panels in the historic district. Since last spring, conversation has continued with regard to amendment of rules associated with the allowance of solar panels on Shepherdstown’s historic buildings. Currently the town’s ordinances ban solar panels on the street facing portion of homes, limiting options for residents looking to go solar. In November, the HLC held an informal discussion about the future of solar panels in the historic district, concluding that the Planning Commission and Town Council should take a closer look at the issue.
480 Underpass announced
Shepherd University announced its plan to construct a pedestrian underpass along Route 480. Working in cooperation with the town, the university announced that it will begin construction in February to be concluded by the fall of 2012. A final decision was made last year to move ahead with plans for an underpass amid continued public concern for student and community safety along the busy roadway.
In a surprise move, longtime House of Delegates representative from Shepherdstown, John Doyle announced that he will not seek reelection to another legislative term. Doyle who serves as representative of all of Shepherdstown, is a town fixture, who can be found conversing with local residents at the Mecklenburg Inn or attending local events when he’s not in session in Charleston. In an interview with the Chronicle, Doyle cited achievements in higher education statewide and at Shepherd University among some of his biggest achievements. Doyle said he plans to spend his time now working on things he hasn’t had a chance to. ” I really do love the legislature… but, there are other things I want to do and I better hurry up an do them while I still have the energy,” he said.
Riverfront Revitalization effort
The Riverfront Revitalization committee gave its final report in June, after months of discussion and growing pubic concern about the fate of Shepherdstown’s Potomac riverfront area. Though ideas including the restoration of the Mecklenburg Warehouse, inclusion of direction signage and many both small and large scale ideas were considered by the committee, none of the proposed changes have been made.
New Library and Rumsey Green
Though conversation continues about the possible annexation of the Rumsey Green area, the Town Council has moved ahead with hiring a consultant after approving $30,000 for that hire in August. Proposals for the Rumsey Green development were made in Jan. 2011, with the new Shepherdstown public library slated to be featured at the center of the new shopping area.
Return of Streetfest
Streetfest returned in 2011 after a year away. Many Shepherdstown residents were interested in bringing the popular day-long arts and music festival, which draws hundreds from all over, back to town. Plans are already underway for the summer 2012 festival scheduled for June 30.
Other top stories for 2011 which did not make the top 10 list include those on the Special Election for Governor, new Town Hall opening, CATF record breaking year, and the naming of the new police chief.