- Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 17:38
- Published on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 17:38
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Northern Neck Historical Society President Virginia Brown, Afghanistan War combatant Chip Jones and James Monroe Foundation President Bill Thomas may find that they have lots of help when they return to Westmoreland County.
A highlight of this Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting was Supervisor Lynn Brownley’s white paper presentation that proposed to use the jurisdiction’s historic assets for economic development purposes.
Work on a James Monroe Birthplace visitor center was completed earlier this year and the Monroe Foundation still plans to construct a replica of the home in which James Monroe was born.
After six decades of effort, the old Monroe family farm will be added to the historically rich jurisdiction’s list of tourist attractions. Foundation President Bill Thomas has praised the Foundation’s partnership with Westmoreland in the effort to develop the Monroe Birthplace and has characterized the initiative as the critical mass needed to convert the county’s historic assets into an economic engine
Virginia Brown, who championed the Monroe Foundation’s cause, is wintering in Florida with her son but plans to return in time for the April celebration of Monroe’s 351st birthday.
Despite Brown’s absence, Northern Neck Historical Society is busier than ever. As this edition of The Journal goes to press, former Journal reporter Kat Ballentine Shepherd is delivering a presentation about the contributions of Westmoreland native Bushrod Washington in his capacity as a United States Supreme Court Justice.
Ballentine is an attorney, legal scholar and Supreme Court docent who resides in the Montross area and holds the position of Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society Executive Director.
Jones is a Northern Neck State Bank employee and Westmoreland resident who was called to active duty in the military and had already completed a tour in Iraq when he returned to Westmoreland long enough to cause a Northern Neck Division of Motor Vehicles license plate to be created.
Jones has since been deployed to Afghanistan. Before his most recent departure he briefed Westmoreland Citizens Association about the advantages the jurisdiction might expect to derive from participation in a regional heritage tourism program.
At home in Westmoreland County this Monday night were Citizens’ Association President Kennon Morris and Association member Gary Hutt. Hutt is completing a white paper of his own concerning development of local historic and other assets for revenue generating purposes. He will present his findings to the Association on January 26.
Very early in the Board’s December 8 proceeding Colonial Beach Councilman Steve Kennedy spoke of his own visit to Luray, Virginia and that locality’s revitalization activities, which he believes can work as well for the Town of Colonial Beach.
Throughout the briefing Kennedy emphasized the interdependence of Colonial Beach and Westmoreland County, urging greater cooperative efforts to launch a tourism-based economic development initiative that would capitalize on shared geographic and historic assets. He envisions creation of an historic trail that would connect Luray to Virginia’s Northern Neck.
Late in the Board’s December 8 public meeting Morris expressed the idea shared by many. More residential subdivisions are not the economic development engine Westmoreland County needs.
On December 8 Supervisor Brownely praised the occasional success of the jurisdiction’s past economic development efforts.
“We must do more to avoid continued stagnation and dependence solely on a growing retiree tax base,” he explained during a session that earlier adopted a resolution projecting that 29.8 of the county’s population with be 65 or older by 2030.
“Given the general economic landscape our country faces and the special challenges facing our rural community, we should locate and consider engaging a specialist,” the Supervisor said.
Brownley suggested that Westmoreland County begin pursuing its own version of economic encouragement, a departure from past reliance on state economic development initiatives.
“We should proactively market Westmoreland County, promoting and enhancing tourism and recreational values,” Brownley said, adding that the measures would provide land owners with needed options for protecting their properties’ rural attributes. More of the Supervisor’s presentation will be shared in next week’s Journal.