The Planning Process Creating the Plan In 2002, the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) produced Preserving Our Mountaineer Heritage: West Virginia Statewide Historic Preservation 2002-2006. That plan was the framework for historic preservation activities for the past few years. This current plan entitled The Past Matters Today is a review of the activities over past years, an examination of the current status of the state’s efforts and a plan for historic preservation to direct historic preservation efforts from 2008 to 2013.
The SHPO held ten meetings across the state during March, April, and May of 2007. With the help of local stakeholders, meetings were held in Keyser, Berkeley Springs, Elkins, Fairmont, Wheeling, Summersville, Parkersburg, Lewisburg, Huntington, and Bluefield. Local officials, state representatives, landmark commission members as well as the public at large were invited and encouraged to attend. The meetings began with a review of the existing goals and objectives. The public was then given an opportunity to address the previous goals and to explain the issues that preservation faced in their communities. During the meetings 171 attendees representing 79 organizations, communities, and businesses made comments and provided suggestions.
To provide those unable to attend the meetings with an opportunity to respond, the SHPO also developed two versions of a survey: one paper and the other electronically accessible on the Division of Culture and History website. All total the surveys represented opinions from 33 of West Virginia’s 55 counties and included responses from historical society members, National Register property owners, landmark commission representatives, local government officials and representatives from state government. Additional comments and input were provided by members of statewide historic preservation groups like the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, the Archaeological Conservancy, and the Council for West Virginia Archaeology, the West Virginia Archaeological Society and Main Street West Virginia. These groups provided a statewide perspective and were quick to provide evidence of success, neglect, and failure.
Analysis After the meetings were over, the surveys counted, individual comments reviewed and data tabulated, the results demonstrated that West Virginians are passionate about their history, historic resources, and archeological sites. They have hope that these resources will remain a vibrant and an active part of the state’s future. Through this process the major issues facing the state were identified.