LOCAL FOUNDATION RESPONDS TO GOVERNOR’S PROPOSAL TO CLOSE STAUNTON RIVER BATTLEFIELD

Reaction to Governor McDonnell’s proposal came quickly.

State Parks Director Joe Elton released a statement shortly after the Governor’s proposal was made public. "I had hoped we would avoid any additional budget cut proposals" stated Elton. "The House and Senate money committees had said they were not planning to make additional cuts in our budget. However, today (Wednesday) Governor McDonnell announced a package of budget cutting proposals to balance the state budget."

Elton continued, "Our strategy would be to maintain existing salaried staff. One or more salaried staff would be caretakers of their park, and the others would be reassigned to other parks in the region. We would be required, as the language states, to lay off all the wage staff in the five parks. I believe there are 21 wage employees in those parks now and at peak season as many as 88 employees would have been hired in those parks. We would encourage those wage employees to consider positions in other parks as an employment option."

In his closing remarks, Elton ended, "Lastly, my condolences to everyone. Every state employee shares in the anxiety and financial hardships of these budget cutting proposals, but those whose jobs would be eliminated need to be in our thoughts and prayers."

As this is a budget proposal, the outcome can change. The proposed closings of these five state parks are controversial and as a result, community and legislative efforts to resist these park closings will be eminent.

Johnny Finch, President of the Virginia Association of Parks, stated, "Available numbers show that these five parks generate an economic benefit of more than $5.6 million for the local and state economies. Available numbers also show that closing these give parks would result in slightly more than $500,000 in General Fund savings."

Finch encouraged members of the Virginia Association of Parks to pass this information along to friends, families, and other organizations to let their voices be heard. He insisted that individuals should contact their local papers, write letters to the editor, and to contact their legislatures to notify them that this proposal is simply a "nonstarter."

Locally, the Historic Staunton River Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c) 3, non-profit, private organization based in Randolph, Virginia released the following statement:

"The Historic Staunton River Foundation, Inc. (Foundation) would like to assure the public that the Foundation is resolved in fulfilling its scope and purpose of promoting, developing, and preserving the 1864 Battlefield at the Staunton River; the Staunton River Bridge; 'the Staunton River historical areas and environs; Roanoke Station; Mulberry Hill, the ancestral home of the Carrington family; 44CH62, the Randy K. Wade Archaeological Site; and the Sappony Indian Nation.' The Foundation also provides historical, environment, wildlife, and wetland awareness, as well as assists in developing programs and events for the general public at the Staunton River Battlefield State Park."

In lieu of the recent budget proposals presented by Governor McDonnell's office, where it was announced that five (5) state parks could be closed by July 2010, the Foundation is determined to do everything within its powers to keep Staunton River Battlefield open to the public.

The Foundation is committed to working with Governor McDonnell, state and local officials, as well as public and private organizations and members of the public during these challenging economic conditions and tumultuous time periods in the Commonwealth.

In the coming weeks (date, time, and location to be announced), the Foundation will be holding a meeting to discuss these recent developments and will draw out a plan of action.

In the meantime, the Foundation implores the public to notify their local legislatures in order to voice their dismay and disapproval of the proposed budgets impacting Charlotte and Halifax Counties; specifically, the closing of Staunton River Battlefield. You may write or call your legislators:

Virginia House of Delegates
60th District Delegate
Delegate James E. Edmunds, II James E. Edmunds, II
455 Short Street, Suite 204
South Boston, VA 24592
434-575-0000

(in Richmond)

Delegate James E. Edmunds, II
P.O. Box 406
General Assembly Building
Richmond, VA 23218-0406
804-698-1060

and

Virginia Senate
District 15 Senator
Frank M. Ruff, Jr.
P.O. Box 332
Clarksville, VA 23927
434-374-5129

(in Richmond)

Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr.
P.O. Box 396
General Assembly Building
Richmond, VA 23218-0406
804-698-7515

For more information, or if you are interested in supporting this Cause, please feel free to contact
info@historicstauntonriverfoundation.org, visit www.historicstauntonriverfoundation.org.

 

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