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2012, a year in stories

By Staff | Dec 28, 2012

As we approach a new calendar year, the Chronicle invites you to take a look back at some of the stories that colored 2012 in Shepherdstown.

The 250-year Anniversary of Shepherdstown

2012 marked an important milestone for Shepherdstown. Members of the town community celebrated its 250th anniversary in a year-long series of special events commemorating Shepherdstown’s unique history. Kicking off last December, as the Mayor gave a special address ushering in the 250th year, the celebration culminated this month with an anniversary parade featuring the descendants of Shepherdstown’s earliest founding families. The year’s events included a special book signing and presentation by PBS commentator Jim Lehr; the completion of a commemorative quilt; the dedication of a plaque honoring Thomas Shepherd; and a series of lectures, stories and concerts, dinners and many more events, held in honor of the town’s history.

Twin Oaks Subdivision decision

After several months of contention, the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Twin Oaks Subdivision developers for the proposed Morgan’s Grove Market expansion. The project sparked controversy in late 2011 and early 2012, when Twin Oaks developers sought to rezone the property located next to Shepherdstown’s Morgan’s Grove Park. After a lengthy battle with members of the Shepherdstown Men’s Club (now Community Club), and other local residents, the Jefferson County Planning Commission voted to deny the request for a zoning reclassification, and instead, instructed developers to seek a Conditional Use Permit for plans associated with potential uses of the property. In April, The Jefferson County BZA approved the CUP after addressing many issues discussed during a full day of testimony and under certain draft conditions.

Library Project moves forward

Though faced with opposition from some among the Shepherdstown community, the planned relocation of the Shepherdstown library moved forward in 2012. In March controversy over the project culminated in the presentation of letter of opposition issued by the Shepherdstown Business Association during public discussion of the project at meeting of the Shepherdstown Town Council. Community members also circulated a petition in opposition to the proposed relocation outside of corporate limits. Library project organizers continue to seek further funding for the project, which has been in the works for the past five years. Though the campaign was launched to promote the consideration of the now vacant Southern States building, as an alternative to an out of town location, project organizers have continued to work on clean-up of the Brownfields property, as the intended site of the new library.

Antietam Remembrance Walk

More than 400 people participated in a living history commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. On Sept. 15 participants traveled three miles from Sharpsburg, Md. to downtown Shepherdstown, escorted by Shepherd University students, who portrayed the many wounded soldiers who made the historic walk 150 years ago, following what is known as the bloodiest battle in American history. Shepherdstown businesses, churches and homes were adorned with yellow ribbons, as they had been 1862, to indicate a place of refuge for the wounded. The walk culminated at Town Hall where students read excerpts from Civil War-era writings and a ceremonial candle light vigil was held.

Rumsey Green still in the works

The proposed Rumsey Green development moves forward with assistance from outside consultants, Placemakers, who worked this year to seek public input on a comprehensive plan for the project. After a public meeting was held last July, Placemakers and the Rumsey Green Development Group moved ahead with a form-based outline for the development, which is to include a new Sheetz, an anchor grocery store, office spaces and residential living areas, among other things. The Rumsey Green Development Group will eventually move ahead with plans to request an annexation of their property by the town. For now, the group continues to work with town officials and consultants to detail specifics of the final plan they’ll present to the town.

Shepherd University’s Pedestrian Underpass nears completion

Shepherd University’s Underpass project now nears completion after early stages of construction began almost a year ago. Originally slated for completion by August, the project experienced delays last summer as a result of extreme weather conditions. Soon open to students for use, the underpass and the reconstructed Route 480 state road that runs over it are expected to see full completion in early 2013, as a new semester begins for students. The decision to construct the pedestrian underpass was made in 2011 due to increasing public concern for the safety of university students who once passed across the roadway between east and west university campuses.

Honorable Mentions: As in years past Shepherdstown saw its streets filled with visitors for some of its unique and characteristic events. The Contemporary American Theater Festival returned to packed houses for another summer of memorable productions.

Street Fest also returned this year, as vendors and fest-goers braved record heat to take part in the art, crafts and music festival. This fall also saw the return of the American Conservation Film Festival for its 10th year.

In addition, Shepherdstown, like the surrounding region also hosted events celebrating Appalachian Heritage, as did Shepherd University.

Freedom’s Run, a race for “health and heritage” returned too. As in years past, this year’s race saw runners from all over the country make their way through historic Shepherdstown and local scenic paths in parklands, like Harpers Ferry and the Antietam Battlefield.

2012 was also a national election year. Residents turned out to the polls to elect a U.S. President and Congress, and also to cast votes in local races for state senate and house seats, as well as county offices.