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General Interest

Shreveport to develop cultural district

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Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 09:31
Shreveport's riverfront casino district. Photo by Brian Bussie of Photos by Brian, LLC, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - A downtown cultural district boasting boutiques, art galleries, a sculpture garden, an urban dog park and various residential options could be on the horizon for Shreveport.

The Times reported on Monday that city leaders, downtown businesses, nonprofits and private investors are moving ahead with a unified vision to revive the nine-block area known as Shreveport Common.

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover says a cultural district could broaden and further diversity the local economy from its largely agrarian and oil and gas roots by creating a place where people want to live.

He says cities where people want to start businesses are not necessarily based on the job availability, but rather what the city offers in arts and culture.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 October 2011 09:41

Archaeologists digging against time at Saratoga battlefield

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Written by CHRIS CAROLA, Associated Press   
Monday, 26 September 2011 13:11
Saratoga Monument in Saratoga National Historical Park, Victory, N.Y. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. STILLWATER, N.Y. (AP) – Archaeologists are digging for artifacts in a battle-scarred and history-rich stretch of the upper Hudson River where thousands of Europeans, Americans and Native Americans fought and died during more than a century of sporadic warfare, culminating in the Americans' defeat of the British at Saratoga.

“This area served as a continual frontier battleground for 150 years before the Revolutionary War,” said Joe Finan, superintendent at the Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater, site of the Battles of Saratoga.

The archaeologists are hoping to complete their task ahead of a different kind of dig along the river for something more recent occupants left behind: polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

The work by the National Park Service is part of a two-year program to identify “high-fertility areas” on park-owned lands within the river's floodplain where 18th-century artifacts could be found, Finan said. The study coincides with the federal government-ordered dredging of PCBs from the river bottom at Ford Edward, 20 miles north of the battlefield.

The EPA has ordered General Electric to remove PCBs the company dumped into the river at Fort Edward and neighboring Hudson Falls for 30 years, ending in 1977 when the practice was banned. Dredgers are expected to reach the national park's stretch of riverfront in 2014.

That gives the parks service time to dig around its 2,800-acre battlefield property for any artifacts missed by previous sanctioned excavations or overlooked by “pot hunters” who loot historical sites, Finan said.

Area historians support the archaeological project and note the potential damage dredging poses to historical objects that may lie along the shore or on the river bottom. Two years ago, a dredging crew working close to shore accidentally ripped away some of the riverbank timbers from the original Fort Edward, built by the British during the French and Indian War.

“Concerns? Oh yeah, big time. Especially from Schuylerville down,” said Linda Palmieri, historian in Stillwater.

The park service and EPA are aware of those concerns.

“We learned a lesson from that,” Gary Klawinski, EPA's dredging project manager, said of the Fort Edward incident, which occurred around 2 a.m. in August 2009.

He said the incident led to two changes in dredging procedures: EPA staffers are now aboard dredging barges whenever sediment removals are being conducted in historically sensitive areas, and no nighttime dredging is allowed in such areas.

Plus, Klawinski said, the agency is well aware that every dip of a dredger's scoop into this stretch of the river has the potential of bringing up something that belongs in a museum.

“You can pretty much go anywhere on the Hudson and find something,” he said. “We're just being very careful.”

The search for historical remnants from the Saratoga battles, fought in September and October of 1777, is being conducted in an area that traditionally has yielded a wealth of artifacts, from Indian arrowheads to military items left over from the thousands of soldiers who passed through or fought here in the 17th and 18th centuries.

While sizable British and Colonial American armies used the Hudson corridor during the French and Indian War (1755-63), the highest concentration of military forces occurred during the Revolutionary War, when the Americans defeated the British at Saratoga in what many consider one of history's most important battles.

The ground on and around the Saratoga battlefield has yielded so many artifacts, it's not uncommon today to see people with metal detectors trailing behind farm tractors plowing local fields, Finan said.

The history-changing fight here in 1777 was actually two battles, the first one fought in September, followed by a second in October. When the October battle was over, the victorious American forces still blocked the British advance toward Albany, while Gen. John Burgoyne's defeated and demoralized redcoats and their German allies retreated a few miles north and eventually surrendered in what is now the riverside village of Schuylerville.

The American victory at Saratoga persuaded the French to join in the fight against Britain, and France's contribution of soldiers, ships and money to the young United States was a major factor in England's former colonies gaining their independence.

Because Saratoga holds such a special place in American history, it's important to find and document as much of the evidence of the battles as possible, Finan said.

With that in mind, archaeologists are concentrating this year's two-week dig on several spots where Route 4 parallels the river and cuts through portions of the park's eastern riverside edge. Using contemporary maps drawn by a British officer and maps produced from recent aerial photography and other high-tech tools, the team is digging in an area where several British encampments and a hospital were located.

Although no noteworthy artifacts have been found so far, the first week of digging uncovered evidence of one of the fortified positions held by the British 47th Infantry Regiment, Finan said.

Digs are also planned on park property that abuts the river's west bank. Finan said artifacts could turn up near the British line of retreat north along the river, given the natural tendency of soldiers to lighten their load whenever possible.

“We know from other archaeology work done at other locations that during these kinds of retreats a lot of material was scuttled in the water,” Finan said.

“That floodplain area has always been an archaeological hot spot,” said Sean Kelliher, historian for the neighboring town of Saratoga, just north of the battlefield. “I think they'll end up finding some very interesting things.”

Plans call for any battle-related artifacts found during the park service's digs to be put on public display, if possible.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-25-11 1611GMT

Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2011 13:29

Owners closing Conn. historic Marlborough Tavern

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 26 September 2011 12:33
Marlborough Tavern is on the National Register of Historic Places. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license versions 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0. MARLBOROUGH, Conn. (AP) – The owners of a Connecticut tavern that dates back to 1740 and hosted presidents James Madison and Andrew Jackson say they're closing the business.

John Spellman and Jim Bradley co-own the Marlborough Tavern, about 17 miles southeast of Hartford in Marlborough. They say the struggling economy made it too hard to keep up with expenses, and a recent five-day power outage caused by Tropical Storm Irene forced them to throw out all the food.

An auction of historic items from the tavern is set for Tuesday.

Spellman and Bradley began operating the tavern 26 years ago, after the building had been vacant for a decade. They say it's probably the oldest operating tavern in the state, and it wasn't an easy decision to close it.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-23-11 1315GMT

Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2011 12:50

Fort Monroe in line for ‘monument’ status, says Salazar

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Written by STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press   
Friday, 23 September 2011 09:28
Pen and ink hand-drawn map of Fort Monroe, Va., 1862. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday he is pushing ahead with Fort Monroe's preservation as a national monument, an approach welcomed by Virginia advocates of a Chesapeake Bay outpost that has seen the sweep of the nation's history.

Preserving portions of the Hampton fortress as a national monument could be achieved under presidential order under the Antiquities Act. It would not require congressional approval.

“The Antiquities Act has been used by presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, to protect historic sites and natural wonders,” Salazar said in an interview with The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. “It's an important law.”

Salazar said his office has been in discussions with local and state officials on the national monument approach to Fort Monroe and those discussions are now heading to the White House.

“We are in the process of doing that analysis and we will soon be (seeing) what exactly the president will do with respect to Fort Monroe,” Salazar said of President Barack Obama.

A week ago, the Army handed responsibility for managing Fort Monroe to Virginia. The land it occupies at the mouth of the Chesapeake saw the first European arrivals to the New World more than 400 years ago, including Jamestown settler John Smith, and was the first stop for African slaves. It also is seen as the place where slavery began to crumble when runaway slaves sought refuge during the Civil War at the Union fort.

The moated fort has seen a who's who of U.S. political figures, including President Abraham Lincoln, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the imprisoned Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and writer Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there.

Terrie Suit, secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security for Virginia, welcomed Salazar's comments as a positive development in ensuring Fort Monroe's future. The national monument status would have the same results as a national park, but would likely be achieved swifter.

“That's huge to me,” she said. “We've had conversations with the National Park Service and they've been pretty supportive of this. To have the secretary comment on this is very positive.”

The Antiquities Act, which dates to 1906, authorizes presidents to proclaim “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” as national monuments, the National Park Service website states.

President Theodore Roosevelt used the act broadly, proclaiming more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon as a national monument. More recently, President Bill Clinton proclaimed the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah a national monument.

Fort Monroe was ordered closed in 2005 as part of the nation's base realignment, intended to cut costs, and had been in continuous operation since 1823. In recent decades it served as the home of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

Consistent with its history, the fort contains more than 170 historic buildings. It also has 8 miles of waterfront and a 332-slip marina. The parts of the fort the state doesn't want turned into a national park will be used for housing and other developments that are expected to remain in line with the area's architecture.

The Fort Monroe Authority's executive director, Glenn Oder, said approximately 40 percent of the fort and its grounds would initially be part of the Park Service. The 200 acres is primarily open space.

The state is also seeking additional park status for other significant portions of the fort, including the parade grounds and the quarters where Lincoln and Lee had spent time.

Legislation that has the bipartisan support of Virginia's delegation is also pending in Congress to designate the fort a national park.


Associated Press writer Matthew Daly in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.


Fort Monroe Authority

Steve Szkotak can be reached at

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-21-11 2201GMT


Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 09:51

Missing moon rock found among Clinton's papers

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 23 September 2011 08:59
A lunar sample brought back by Apollo 17, which is on display at the Virginia Air and Space Museum. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A missing moon rock that the state of Arkansas received after the Apollo 17 mission was found Wednesday in a box of papers from former President Bill Clinton.

An archivist found the rock, which weighs less than half an ounce, in one of some 2,000 boxes of Clinton's gubernatorial paperwork and memorabilia housed in Little Rock, said Bobby Roberts, who directs the Central Arkansas Library System.

“This morning, one of the processors opened up a box and there's the moon rock, out of nowhere,” Roberts said.

The rock was presented to Arkansas more than 30 years ago—sometime after it was collected during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette first reported the rock was missing last year. Since then, Roberts said he has been following the news about the moon rock.

“It kind of became Arkansas' mystery about where's the moon rock,” he told The Associated Press.

Roberts said he's not sure how the rock ended up among paperwork from when Clinton served as governor, but he said he's glad it has been recovered.

“It really is something from an important era in the history of the country and you hate to see it disappear,” Roberts said. “I guess it's one more Arkansas mystery solved.”

An Arkansas museum employee discovered another moon rock last summer, according to the Democrat-Gazette. That piece of the moon was from the Apollo 11 mission.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-22-11 0005GMT


Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 09:12
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