Corps Announces Its Decision

October 28, 2005

Planning, Programs and Project Management Division
Planning Branch, Environmental Analysis Section

Dr. Bob Maslowski, President
Council for West Virginia Archaeology

Dear Dr. Maslowski:

Thank you for your letter of September 23, 2005, regarding the draft Environmental Assessment for the PreK-8 Elementary/Middle School at War, McDowell County, West Virginia. As you know, Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) is providing federal funding to the West Virginia Board of Education for flood protection of McDowell County schools as part of the McDowell County Nonstructural Project in the Tug Fork Basin of West Virginia. At War, the McDowell County Board of Education (MCBOE) will close the Big Creek High School and on the football field of that school, the MCBOE will construct a new consolidated PreK-8 Elementary/Middle replacing the Bartley Elementary School grades 6th through 8th, the Berwind Elementary School, the War Elementary School, and thc War Middle School.

Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. (CRAI), a cultural resources consultant firm, conducted a cultural historic survey and archeological survey and testing of the project area on behalf of the MCBOE. Huntington District has consulted with the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) on this project. The District has also consulted with representatives of the Shawnee and Cherokee Indian tribes as well as the Council for West Virginia Archaeology about the project.

The cultural historic survey documented information from which we conclude that the War High School campus is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The archeological investigations identified a previously unknown archeological site ( 46MD61 ) in the football field. This site has both a prehistoric and a historic component, but lacks integrity and is not eligible for listing in the NRHP .I have enclosed for your review a copy of CRAI's report on the Phase II archeological evaluation of 46MD6l and a copy of our district archeologist's evaluation of the site based on the report by CRAI.

The new construction will involve placing two meters of fill on the football field to provide a level base for the school allowing first floor construction to be above the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 100 year flood limit. This will result in a fill that is deepest at the western end and tapers to the existing surface at the eastern end. Placement of fill on the football field will encapsulate the archeological site, preserving a portion of the site in place. The existing surface of the football field will be removed to a depth of 15 centimeters before the fill is placed and excavations for utilities and footers will intrude into the archeological deposits only in the eastern portion of the site where no in situ deposits are reported.

Construction of the new Elementary/Middle School will have an adverse effect on the Big Creek High School campus. The COE developed a plan to mitigate the adverse effects on the Big Creek High School campus by the following measures: preparation of a history of the community of War and the role of Big Creek High School in the community; preparation of a National Register nomination form for Big Creek High School, and development of a program to include prehistoric and historic archeology in the curriculum of McDowell County Elementary, Middle and High Schools. Copies of the history will be made available to local schools and libraries. The West Virginia SHPO concurs with our determinations and plan. The COE has prepared a Memorandum of Agreement for this project and a copy is enclosed.

Please contact our district archeologist, Brantley Jackson, at telephone 304-399-5793 or e-mail at brantley.iackson@Lrh01.usace.army.mil should you have any questions or comments.

Sincerely,

S. Michael Worley, PE
Chief, Planning Branch


© 2005
Council for West Virginia Archaeology (CWVA) unless otherwise noted.