A question for the WV Division of Culture and History – What’s a Historic Civil War Site go for these days?

Funny thing about these industrial wind deals.  The more questions you think you answer, the more questions that pop up.

A couple of days ago, we had a piece on the fire sale of 18 historic landmarks negatively impacted by 23 wind turbines planned for the high ridges of the Allegheny Mountains above Keyser, WV.

Then, a commenter – The Allegheny Front Alliance – replied to that post pointing out that the same officer, Ms. Susan Pierce, (the signatory to the agreement that priced the adverse impacts to 18 historic sites at a fairly paltry sum of $10,000), was also involved another adverse impact discussion bordering Virginia.

By the way, it would be great if Ms. Pierce, or anyone familiar with the situation would clear up any misunderstanding I may present here, because this wind stuff is a tangled web to average citizens, like me.

To recap my understanding, this past September, a few weeks before she sold out Mineral County historical sites, Ms. Pierce, on behalf of the State of West Virginia, wrote a letter to the Virginia State Counsel – State Corporation Commission asking that they work to resolve an impasse regarding a negative view-shed issue.   Seems the turbines in question will have a negative impact on Camp Allegheny, a Historic Civil War site in West Virginia.  Ms. Pierce’s complete letter is provided for your review at the end of the post.

The AFA thought this a little odd since, by all accounts, the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office Ms. Pierce draws her authority from, didn’t offer the very same courtesy to our friends in Maryland.  See, the adverse impact Pinnacle Knob brings upon 18 historic sites in the radius Ms. Pierce established for the Mineral County survey, had she allowed, would extend into Maryland and likely demonstrate negative impact on some of their historic sites.  But perhaps that just wasn’t on her radar so, as a result, no consideration of potential negative impact Pinnacle Knob might cause our Maryland neighbors appears to have been considered.  Testimony before the WV PSC seems to confirm that suspicion.  Sad to say, but Maryland won’t even get a chicken wing from the bucket of Kentucky Fried Ms. Pierce was happy to accept as mitigation to Pinnacle Knob.  Hey! … maybe the Colonel can add a specialty item to the menu now that we’ll be chopping them up anyway – “Golden Crispy Eagle” – what do you think?

So, how does that all wash out?  Well, we at Allegheny Treasures, and it seems the AFA, don’t really have a problem with Ms. Pierce’s fight to correct the negative view-shed issues these giant turbines have on historic landmarks.  The AFA, for quite some time, has been doing the same thing here in our little West Virginia Community some 240 miles from Ms. Pierce’s office in Charleston, WV.  Our way of correcting a view issue seems to differ with that of Ms. Pierce, however.

But here’s the rub.  Based on her performance “solving” the Pinnacle Knob intrusion for cash, the debate with Virginia may boil down to how much Ms. Pierce thinks Camp Allegheny is worth.  Sound ridiculous?

  • Don’t we already know she’s happy to settle negative impacts with a check since that’s been confirmed by the Agreement between WVSHPO and Pinnacle Wind Force LLC that set up the petty cash fund for Mineral County?
  • Doesn’t Ms. Pierce confirm cash mitigation is acceptable by her actions and statement in her letter to the Counsel General of Virginia? … “The intent of the state review process is consultation with an applicant to insure the adverse effects are avoided, reduced and/or mitigated prior to the initialization of work.”
  • Isn’t setting the mitigation standard for her own state at near peanuts and expecting another state will do better by us with a big check perhaps a little naive?
  • Worse, could Virginia point to Ms. Pierce’s treatment of Maryland and ask why West Virginia should receive any consideration whatsoever?
  • Doesn’t it seem doubtful, simply on Ms. Pierce’s clear signal that cash mitigates view, that the State of Virginia would actually require elimination of turbines based on her appeal?  Should they do so, I imagine it will be out of respect for historic treasures, something our own state seems willing to sell.

In my opinion:

  • had WVSHPO worked to actually correct the problems in Mineral County, they might have a stronger case for correction at Camp Allegheny.
  • had they considered Maryland in the view-shed issue here in Mineral County, they might have a stronger case to appeal to the “better neighbor” side of Virginia.
  • had they shared in the “fortune” of Mineral County mitigation with our neighbors in Maryland, they might have a stronger case to receive a few mitigation dollars for the adverse impact at Camp Allegheny.

Hopefully, the State of Virginia will treat us better than we treat ourselves and our neighbors.

The AFA is right to be outraged.  I’m personally outraged that this state agency would treat Mineral County in the dismissive manner it has chosen and elected to ignore entirely our friends across the Potomac.  Further, I can only assume Governor Manchin is on board with this attack on the concept of home rule.  I will write him to clarify the issue.  If he replies, I’ll post here.  If he doesn’t, I’ll post here.

One last point before I close.  As the AFA points out, Ms. Pierce tells the Counsel General in her letter relative to Camp Allegheny, “If this visual simulation (received at some time by WVSHPO) is correct, then the historic character of the landscape surrounding Camp Allegheny will change with the introduction of these wind turbines.”

OK, call me stupid, but doesn’t the “historic character” of the Keyser community “change with the introduction of these wind turbines” considering the 23 twirling tinker toys, one and a half times the size of a football field will be plopped on a mountain ridge above it?

And, oh yeah, one more salt crystal in the cut for our friends in Maryland, courtesy of Ms. Pierce’s appeal to Virginia, “Generally, that applicant and the SHPO would consult regarding altering the number of wind turbines or their location to reduce the impact to this historic resources [sic].  To our knowledge, insufficient discussion has taken place.”  Seems “To our knowledge, insufficient discussion has taken place” concerning our friends in Maryland.

So, a few thoughts for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the WV State Historic Preservation Office:

  1. If I had to choose a group to “have my back” in this wind business, I’d be picking the Allegheny Front Alliance over the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.  They understand what taking care of a visual problem really means.
  2. To the WV SHPO – If you’re going to ask our neighbors in Virginia to help, your credibility will be much enhanced should you be able to say, “just like the courtesy we extended to our friends in Maryland, a couple of miles away.”
  3. Consider consistency as a guiding force in your actions.
  4. Most of all, follow the rule you set for yourselves:  “The mission of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History is to identify, preserve, protect, promote, and present the ideas, arts, and artifacts of West Virginia’s heritage, building pride in our past accomplishments and confidence in our future.”  Perhaps the WVDCH could point to the phrase in their own statement I missed that says, “unless we get a few bucks!”

But, if all fails at Camp Allegheny Ms. Pierce, we’ll need to look at the bright side.  Maybe the millions of tourists, some in our community claim travel the earth simply to look at windmills, will now accidentally get the benefit of seeing a piece of West Virginia history at Camp Allegheny when they come to see the nearby Virginia towers.  You might say, it’ll draw ’em in just like the blue light special at K-Mart.  I think I’ll recommend to my buddies at Gettysburg to drop a couple of these beauties on Little Round Top to boost attendance.

If you want to know more about the project affecting Camp Allegheny, there is no better resource than VA Wind.  The VA Wind folks have loaded their site with information concerning regional, national and international wind issues.  You gotta go there!

And, what I learned at VA Wind confirms this wind installation seems another monstrosity of big business running over every citizen, legislator and agency in its path.  What is it with these wind folks that tell us they have such a great product, yet feel forced to ram them down our throats?

What follows, should you miss Perry Mason, is a recap of the consultant to the WV SHPO testifying at the evidentiary hearing before the WV Public Service Commission in October.  Enjoy the interchange regarding consideration of the State of Maryland and it’s communities separated from the proposed Pinnacle Knob wind facility only by the Potomac River.

Kathryn Kuranda is senior vice president for architectural and historian services for R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, coincidentally located in Maryland, a cultural resource management firm.  She is questioned by Brad Stephens, Attorney for the Allegheny Front Alliance.  The full Day 2 testimony is found at this link to the WV PSC.

This is the letter from Ms. Pierce, WVSHPO to Virginia General Counsel:

This is the mitigation Agreement between WV SHPO and Pinnacle Wind Force LLC:

We make every effort to be accurate.  Should you find errors, omissions or broken links, please contact me via the comment section and I’ll remedy the issue.

This entry was posted in Allegheny Front Alliance, Camp Allegheny, Mineral County WV, Pinnacle Knob, Pinnacle Wind Force LLC, WVSHPO and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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