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Governor McAuliffe Signs Deed to Transfer Fort Monroe Land to National Park Service

Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed a deed that transfers land at Fort Monroe from the Commonwealth of Virginia to the National Park Service, solidifying Virginia’s commitment to turning the fort into a national monument for the enjoyment of tourists and history-buffs from all over the Commonwealth and country. 

The deed was signed in a public ceremony at the Main Gate of the Fort by Governor McAuliffe and Peggy O’Dell, the Deputy Director of the National Park Service. The document formally and legally finalizes the transfer of land at Fort Monroe from the Commonwealth of Virginia to the National Park Service.

Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed a deed that transfers land at Fort Monroe from the Commonwealth of Virginia to the National Park Service, solidifying Virginia’s commitment to turning the fort into a national monument for the enjoyment of tourists and history-buffs from all over the Commonwealth and country

“Fort Monroe is a rich historical site that helps tell the story of our Commonwealth and our country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “By transferring this land to the National Park Service, we are creating the opportunity to enhance this great asset so that we can preserve our history and leverage it to draw greater tourism revenue and economic activity to the Peninsula. I am thrilled to sign this deed and help begin the next chapter in the history of Fort Monroe.”

The land transfer preserves a group of significant landmarks at Fort Monroe that highlight some of our nation’s most important events. Robert E. Lee lived at the Fort and helped design and construct the stone fortification. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in a Fort casemate. Harriet Tubman spent time at the Fort after the Civil War, and Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there as a young soldier.

The Fort also tells the significant story of the beginning and the end of slavery in the United States. One such story includes three brave men — Frank Baker, James Townsend and Sheppard Mallory – who escaped enslavement and rowed a skiff to Old Point Comfort to seek asylum. General Benjamin Butler declared these men "contraband of war." This inspired tens of thousands of African Americans throughout the South to seek self-emancipation across Union lines.  This monument provides a unique opportunity to share this story with visitors from around the world.

The deed signing marks the culmination of years of hard work by state leaders, the City of Hampton, the National Park Service, the historic preservation community, the National Park Conservation Association and the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.

To learn more about Fort Monroe, visit http://www.nps.gov/fomr/index.htm.

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Hampton Bay Days starts today

imageStarting today  September 7-9, 2012, Hampton, Virginia will once again welcome an estimated 200,000 fun seekers and festival attendees to the 30th annual Hampton Bay Days. The free event, one of the largest family-friendly festivals on the entire east coast, will showcase music by many diverse artists.

The fun begins on the 2012 Headliner Stage at Mill Point at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, September 7 with the blues-rock sound of Grinners Flight, featuring nationally-renowned drummer Mike Williams. Stroll over to the Wine Street Stage at 6:00 p.m. for a performance by the US Air Force Blue Aces. At 7:00 p.m., head back over to the 2012 Headliner Stage at Mill Point and enjoy an eclectic dance party with Hampton Roads’ R&B "supergroup" Rare Mixx. Close out the evening at 9:00 p.m. with House & Sinnett. Jae will play a short jazz set with pianist Justin Kauflin before going into a full-on House & Sinnett show.

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Hampton Block Party Starts 2012 Season

imageHampton VA , kicks off their outdoor street party series this Saturday with Irish-flavored rock from the Virginia Beach band The Fighting Jamesons.

The band plays music that is steeped in the grand tradition of classic Irish sing-a-long and captures the true spirit of Irish music.

The party runs 6-11 p.m. Saturday, April 21 and continues Saturday nights through Sept. 1. Admission is free

The event concentrates on local cover bands with a few  National acts through the season.

The street party takes place along Queensway in downtown Hampton. It will include beer and food vendors as well as children’s activities. Admission is free. For more information, call 727-0900 or visit www.vasc.org.

Here’s the full lineup for the 2012 season

April 21 The Fighting Jamesons (

April 28 Tidewater Drive

May 5 Tailgate Down

May 12 Power Play

May 19 Flashback

May 26 The DeLoreans

June 2 Doug Dunn and Island Style

June 9 Rare Mixx

June 16 Hey Hooligan

June 23 Fastball

June 30 Vinyl Headlights

July 7 Slapwater

July 14 Hot Cakes

July 21 Excess

July 28 Stricly Bizzness

Aug. 11 BoDeans

Aug. 18 The Janitors

Aug. 25 Butter

Sept. 1 Slapwater

Hampton Roads Chinese Drywall Issue Gains Attention

Representatives Scott Rigell ; Bobby Scott; Randy Forbes; and Rob Wittman – all of whom are members of the Congressional Chinese Drywall Caucus – announced legislation that will prevent hazardous Chinese drywall from being imported into the United States and ensure that existing drywall is properly disposed of so that it does not enter the recycling stream.

The four congressmen representing the entire Hampton Roads delegation toured the house to highlight the problems caused by Chinese drywall and to announce new legislation that they say has a chance to help people hurt by the drywall. Many homes have been foreclosed upon or forced into short sale, and many families have declared bankruptcy.

About 400 homes in Virginia — most in Hampton Roads communities likes Newport News, James City County, Hampton, Virginia Beach and Isle of Wight — and thousands across the United States, have been affected. Chinese drywall was imported during the mid-2000s when there was a shortage of U.S.-made drywall during the housing boom.

“This is the right step toward preventing this material from coming back into the United States,” Rigell said.  “Thousands of American homeowners have suffered from the effects of toxic Chinese drywall.  Families have been driven from their homes and faced financial hardship due to the health and home safety concerns this toxic product has created. Some have faced bankruptcy. Many have faced foreclosure. It’s time for the government of China to require these manufacturers to submit to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts and make these victims whole.”

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$5,000 Grant for First-Time Military Buyers

Making Homes More Affordable for Military Families

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation, , a non-profit organization that helps meet the needs of military personnel and their families, has developed the Dream Makers Program to offer financial aid to first-time military home buyers.

The $5,000 grant, which can be used towards down-payments and closing costs on the home, is available for active duty personnel, veterans and retired military members, as well as employees of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

The program ensures that the people who have helped serve our country, past or present, now have help in buying their first home.

The foundation has had fewer veterans apply for the grant in recent years, due to the economy and lack of awareness about the program. They have made it their mission to make sure as many active duty members and veterans know about the Dream Makers Program as possible. Please share this with anyone you know who may be eligible.

This program is a great service for our nation’s military personnel who are finally able to purchase a home and settle down.

.Find out more here  www.PentagonFoundation.org

Applying for a Dream Makers Grant

You don’t have to be a Pentagon Federal Credit Union member to benefit from Dream Makers, and you can apply the grant to a mortgage from any financial institution.

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President Signs Proclamation Naming Fort Monroe a National Monument

Known first as "The Gibraltar of the Chesapeake" and later as "Freedom’s Fortress," Fort Monroe on Old Point Comfort in Virginia has a storied history in the defense of our Nation and the struggle for freedom.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Tuesday granting national monument status to Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, ending a five-year, grassroots effort to protect a storied spit of land that witnessed the beginning and end of slavery in the United States – and lots of military history in between.

Fort Monroe Hampton VaObama’s proclamation on Hampton’s Fort Monroe, which he signed in the Oval Office before more than a dozen witnesses, signals the start of a new chapter for the former Army base, built between 1819 and 1834. The National Park Service will manage more than half the land, including hundreds of acres of undeveloped waterfront property and the moated stone fortress itself.

Tuesday marked Obama’s first use of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which empowers presidents to designate federally owned land of significant historical value as a national monument. Politicians from both parties supported the idea, which was first suggested and long advocated for by a local group of history buffs that formed an alliance called Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.

Work on the stone fortress began in 1819 under President James Monroe, who sought to protect the fledgling democracy from invasion after the British navy sailed up the Chesapeake Bay and burned Washington during the War of 1812. When it was completed in the 1830s, the "Gibraltar of the Chesapeake," surrounded by an 8-foot-deep moat, enclosed 63 acres.

Fort Monroe was a military base until mid-September, when the Army moved its personnel to comply with a 2005 base realignment and closure decision. A little over half of its 570 acres will be managed by the park service. A state entity, the Fort Monroe Authority, will oversee the reuse of the rest of the property, including limited development in certain sections.

A yet-to-be-announced park superintendent will begin working at Fort Monroe this week, Barna said, with the rest of the staff assembled in the coming months. In the meantime, he said, rangers and staff from other sites will be temporarily assigned to the fort.

Fort Monroe, designed by Simon Bernard and built of stone and brick between 1819 and 1834 in part by enslaved labor, is the largest of the Third System of fortifications in the United States. It has been a bastion of defense of the Chesapeake Bay, a stronghold of the Union Army surrounded by the Confederacy, a place of freedom for the enslaved, and the imprisonment site of Chief Blackhawk and the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. It served as the U.S. Army’s Coastal Defense Artillery School during the 19th and 20th centuries, and most recently, as headquarters of the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

Old Point Comfort in present day Hampton, Virginia, was originally named "Pointe Comfort" by Captain John Smith in 1607 when the first English colonists came to America. It was here that the settlers of Jamestown established Fort Algernon in 1609. After Fort Algernon’s destruction by fire in 1612, successive English fortifications were built, testifying to the location’s continuing strategic value. The first enslaved Africans in England’s colonies in America were brought to this peninsula on a ship flying the Dutch flag in 1619, beginning a long ignoble period of slavery in the colonies and, later, this Nation. Two hundred and forty-two years later, Fort Monroe became a place of refuge for those later generations escaping enslavement.

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Fort Monroe To Become National Monument

Fort Monroe in Hampton Virginia is expected to be designated a National Monument by  President Barack Obama this Tuesday.

fortmonroeU.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a phone interview Saturday that Obama would use powers granted to him under the Antiquities Act to preserve the former Army base  and hundreds of acres of open space along the Chesapeake Bay

Hampton Va, Mayor Molly Ward said, “We are thrilled and grateful that the President has chosen to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate a major portion of Fort Monroe as a National Monument.”

Since the closing of the base was announced in 2005, the City has worked with citizens and other elected officials to ensure that the history and beauty of the fort be protected as a public place.

“This effort has shown what we can do when we put our political differences aside and work for the common good,” said Ward. “We have achieved this goal with bipartisan support of Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner; Congressmen Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman; Governor Bob McDonnell and his administration; the City of Hampton; a variety of dedicated conservation partners including the National Park Conservation Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and individual advocates, historians and citizen groups, particularly the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.

“A National Monument at Fort Monroe will give the fort the stature it deserves in our Nation’s history. Very few Americans know the story of the Contraband Slaves, and how slavery really ended in the United States. I believe the significance of the President’s designation, and the significance of Fort Monroe, will continue to grow in years to come as its story becomes known.”

In addition, said Ward, it will provide an economic boost to Hampton and help strengthen the Hampton Roads region as a strong tourist attraction.

“Having a National Monument, especially one of such importance, will have an enormous impact on the economy of the City of Hampton and the Hampton Roads region. Studies consistently show that National Parks create jobs, and increase adjacent property values. This designation will help the City and the village of Phoebus regain the vitality and jobs lost through the Army’s departure and the base closure.”

Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort ever built in the United States and it has seen an interesting history over the years since construction began in 1819 as part of a plan of coastal defenses after the British burned Washington, D. C. during the War of 1812. This designation will help ensure that Ft. Monroe will exist as a tourist destination and that its history is not lost..