2015 went by so quickly that we didn’t even have time to put together our traditional “Year in Review” post! Since we’re in the first week of 2016 already, I’ll give you a quick look at the PA SHPO’s 2015 highlights and a glimpse into some of the great things we have in store for you in 2016.
So what were the PA SHPO highlights for 2015? There are many – we had a great year – but several stand out. In the past year, the PA SHPO:
- Said good-bye to Serena Bellew as our Bureau Director and the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. Andrea MacDonald, Preservation Services Division Chief, was named the Acting Bureau Director. I also came on board as the office’s new Education and Outreach Coordinator, which is a position funded by mitigation monies from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
- Started some new blog series, such as the SHPO Shout-Out, #FindYourPark, and 5 Things.
- Hosted interns from Pennsylvania, NJ, the Midwest, and even Columbia, South America. They were invaluable help as we tackle our to-do lists.
- Forged new relationships with counties and state agencies as the Disaster Planning for Historic Properties Initiative entered its second year.
- Celebrated the State Museum of Pennsylvania’s 50th birthday with preservationists, historians, planners, and many others at the Statewide Conference on Heritage in July. ReGIS, the public web-based version of our CRGIS database, also turned 10 this year!
- Instituted some important changes to the Certified Local Government (CLG) program and continued to work with our state and federal partners for meaningful mitigation in the Section 106 process.
- Increased our blog readership with the help of these 5 most viewed blog posts from the year:
- Into the Wilderness: The Search for Thompson’s Island
- Spotlight Series: McKees Rocks Mound
- PA Modern Discovering Pennsylvania’s Midcentury Architectural Legacy
- Shippensburg’s Corn Festival: Thirty-Five Years of Corn, Fun, and Historic Preservation
- Intern Introspects: 10 Historic Bridges in Pennsylvania to Paddle Under
So what do we have planned for 2016? In a word, lots. I can’t let too many secrets out, but I can tell you that we think this will be another great year for preservation. In addition to the work we do in our seven different program areas, we have a few big things on the horizon. Here’s what I can share:
- We are now, officially, the PA SHPO! Soon you’ll see our new name and logo everywhere.
- We have a brand new exciting exhibit at the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show next week. This year, we have partnered with the Dept. of Agriculture at the 100th PA Farm Show event to develop a booth celebrating Century Farms.
- 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Check our blog, newsletters, and social media sites often to find out how we’re celebrating and how you can, too. You can also visit www.Preservation50.org for more information.
- The PA SHPO office in Harrisburg is getting an overhaul to improve our customer service, research room facilities, conference rooms, and office spaces to work more effectively and efficiently. We’re going to do our best to keep disruptions to our normal work schedules to a minimum during January and February.
- We’ll be taking a fresh look at our education and training programs to find new ways to talk with the public and our partners about historic preservation. We’ll keep you posted on our progress!
- We’ll get started on some exciting outreach activities in preparation for Pennsylvania’s next comprehensive statewide historic preservation plan in 2018. Yes, I know, this sounds far away but it’s really not when you consider that we want to make sure all of Pennsylvania is well-represented in this action plan for preservation. Look for emails, updates, events, exhibits, and more to make sure that your voice is heard!
I hope I’ve given you some food for thought as you start another year. Thank you for being one of our loyal readers and we appreciate everything you do to promote historic preservation in Pennsylvania! If there is a topic you’d like to learn more about or share with others, please share your ideas in the comments section below or email us at email@example.com. And don’t forget, we’re always looking for examples of the great preservation work happening across the commonwealth to celebrate in our SHPO Shout-out.
Best wishes for a happy and productive 2016!