To: WV Department of Arts, Culture and History
State Historic Preservation Office
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Phone – 304-558-0220
CC: National Park Service
National Register of Historic Places
1849 C Street, NW (7228)
Washington , DC 20240
Phone: (202) 354-2211
I live in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, a place blessed to preserve not only much of our continent’s original natural peace and beauty, but precious echoes of the ancient values which built our country’s strength, freedom and prosperity.
Our population is now fewer than 8,000 people, although we had three times that many during the timber boom years a century ago. Human artifacts are correspondingly thin-on-the-ground here, especially ones that preserve and remind us of our history. A few wise Pocahontas Countians have worked hard over the years to achieve for a number of these, the protection of the National Register.
Our current County Commission recently voted to attack this process and tradition, with a letter to your office asking for the de-listing of a portion of our late 19th century courthouse complex.
Commission president and career politician Walt Helmick wants the jail building behind the courthouse demolished, as part of building a Courthouse Annex.
No good reasons have been presented why a county that is still losing population needs an annex, especially when the county seat of Marlinton is full of empty buildings. At one of the com- mission meetings where this plan was discussed, no rational cause was advanced to demolish anything: the lot where the jail and courthouse sit has ample empty land for construction of new buildings to double, triple or quadruple courthouse space, without demolishing anything. In fact, the historic Jail building itself, largely unoccupied since the establishment of the Regional Jails, could be re-purposed, if it is true that space is needed for further inflation of government.
I ask that your offices refuse this unwarranted, shortsighted and destructive re- quest. Perhaps Helmick will abuse taxpayers to fully fund his pet project locally, but at least you can prevent federal funds from being pirated for his curious plan.
One of the great purposes of State and Federal Historic Preservation should be to insulate things of lasting value from passing storms of local disregard.