Thomas Kennedy Center to get grant help

January 8, 2018

Efforts to preserve a Williamsport-area Civil War battlefield and a project to pay tribute to a Washington County lawmaker who paved the way for Jews to hold public office in Maryland are getting some financial support.

The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, which promotes stewardship of historic, cultural and natural Civil War resources and stimulates tourism, said Monday that it has awarded $4,000 in grants for the projects.

The Battle of Falling Waters was fought July 14, 1863, when Confederate troops were preparing to cross the Potomac River after the Battle of Gettysburg. The site is along Falling Waters Road.

An organization has been working to preserve the site, and the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area awarded the group $2,500 for development of a site plan for a parking area and interpretation efforts.

George Franks, president of the Battle of Falling Waters 1863 Foundation, said the $2,500 will be used to develop drawings for parking and an interpretive area.

Franks said the Civil War Trust purchased 3.5 acres at the site and is in the process of transferring the property to the Maryland Historical Trust. The trust will hold an easement on the property, and Franks said his group will manage and supervise it.

After drawings are completed, the foundation will pursue development of the parking and interpretive signs. Franks said he would like to hold a groundbreaking in July.

Although Franks said the battle encompassed about 500 acres, he emphasized that his group is not out there to "gobble up land. We're very respectful of property rights."

Franks said when more property becomes available, the foundation will be interested in either placing tracts in conservation easements or purchasing them.

At one time in Maryland, Jews couldn't hold public office, which caught the attention of Thomas Kennedy, a Washington County state lawmaker.

Kennedy drafted a law to allow Jews to hold public office, an effort that met with failure before it was passed in 1826.

County leaders gathered last month to honor Kennedy during a ceremony in which a model of a statue of Kennedy was unveiled. Officials also announced plans for the Thomas Kennedy Center next to Congregation B'nai Abraham where people will be able to learn about Kennedy's life.

The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area approved a $1,500 grant for the Thomas Kennedy Center that will be used for a website, according to a news release.

Dan Spedden, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the money for the two groups comes in the form of minigrants that groups can apply for fairly easily.

From: The Herald-Mail