Recap: Can You Rest in Peace in Prince William?
The Prince William Committee of 100 on 1.9.2014 presented a distinguished panel of experts and an outstanding moderator for the January program, “Can You Rest in Peace in Prince William County?”
Charlie Grimes, a professor at George Mason and the Chair of Prince William Conservation Alliance ran a tight ship as five guests were allotted eight minutes each to summarize their positions.
Julie Langan, Acting Director and State Historic Preservation Officer, Virginia Department
of Historic Resources, stated she was glad to see a timekeeper to keep her on track and gave an overview of what services are provided by the Virginia Department of Historical Resources. Langan strove to explain what a small portion exhumation permits constitutes out of the broad scope of her organization. In fact, only 76 such permits have been issued since 1996. She also stated she was painfully aware of the shortcomings in existing legislation.
Joanna Wilson Green, Archaeology Stewardship and Easements, Office of Preservation
Incentives, from the same agency, further explained that change has come slowly to the burial laws in the state of Virginia. Green stated that since 1989, only four permits such as the one granted to Prince William County School had been issued in the entire state.
Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe described an initiative by the Board of County Supervisors that will establish policy for development on public land begins with seeking and securing cultural and historic resources.
Bill Olson, President, Historic Prince William, gave a very concise timeline beginning in 2001 when a neighbor firs asked the county to help him locate a cemetery located at the site of what will soon be the 12th high school. The cemetery was not located at that time due to dense vegetation. Olson recalled the single notice of exhumation placed by Prince William County Schools in the Washington Post, and told of the disinterment begun on November 11.
Rounding out the panel was Don Wilson, Director of RELIC. Wilson explained that after obtaining the exact GPS coordinates he was able to trace that land back to 1790. Somewhere between the years 1890 and 1900 there was reference to a cemetery on that land and found an obituary dated 1899 describing the remains of Cordelia Lynn being returned to her home site near Independent Hill.
Absent from the C-100 forum was anyone from Prince William County Schools as the School Board had a meeting schedule conflict. Dave Cline, did send an email to C-100 President Denny Daugherty explaining notification that ran in the Post cost $1,000.00 a day and the notice was posted in the lobby at the Kelly Leadership Center for 60 days. That email was available for attendees to pick up at the forum, as was a handout with the Burial Laws of the state of Virginia.
Greatly missed at the event was Delegate Rich Anderson, who is in Richmond for the 2014 session, but he is patron of this bill (HB # 997) , described as:
Proceedings for the removal and relocation of human remains Strengthens the requirements for disinterment and relocation of human remains from a cemetery or graveyard by the landowner by requiring the institution of legal proceedings, heightened notice requirements to any heirs or descendants, and notice to the Department of Historic Resources and any local historical commission or organization.
Video of the entire PW Committee forum, including questions and answers that followed the speakers may be viewed on the Prince William Committee of 100 website as soon as that footage has been edited and posted.
Connie Moser serves as the publicity chairperson for the Prince William Committee of 100 and is also a weekly columnist for PotomacLocal.com.