Thursday, November 19, 2009

Roanoke City Council members reconsider support for Civil War Sesquicentennial

President Lincoln

President Lincoln

In a 3-3 vote on November 2 a resolution failed that would allow the Historical Society of Western Virginia to apply for state funding from the Virginia Commission and the Tourism Corporation to help fund programs commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The programs would begin in 2011.

Without the resolution the Historical Society representing Roanoke and Western Virginia would be hardpressed  to receive state grants to fund and market area programs.

Roanoke City was the only locality to fail to pass the resolution. Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea and Council member Anita Price the only two black members of the seven-member council voted “no” without explanation. Council member Court Rosen voted “no” as well. Council member Gwen Mason was absent.

The surprise on the faces of Mayor Bowers and other council members spoke volumes. Mayor Bowers hesitated and stumbled as he declared that “the resolution has failed.” The Historical Society Executive Director, Jeanne Bollendorf was stunned but respectfully thanked the Council as she left the podium.

It seems a comment by Bollendorf about President Lincoln made Council member Price “bristle” as she stated later. Vice-Mayor Lea and Council member Rosen claimed the society would be back with their hand out for money the city did not have.

In apparent embarrassment over the vote council at the end of the 7:00 pm November 16 council meeting reconsidered. After some confusion on who could make the motion Councilman Rosen on the prevailing side entered a “motion to reconsider.” They had learned that the Harrison Museum (black history) were part of the planned Civil War commemorative programs.

After backpedaling with excuses and an empty council chamber the seven-members voted unanimously for the resolution.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Roanoke City Politics



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