- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

GLEN DANIEL, W.Va. (AP) - Liberty High School ninth-graders have gathered footage and produced a short documentary to help archive and illustrate a preservation project in Helen that could serve as a model for historic preservation groups across the state.

On April 11, community and preservation groups, alongside government agencies, cleaned out and secured an old apartment building in the historic coal camp community of Helen through a process called architectural mothballing, saving the structure from demolition.

When researching the process, David Rotenizer, Raleigh County West Virginia State University Extension agent, said little graphic or visual information on mothballing could be found online.

Multi-media students at Liberty attended the clean-up to gather footage, conduct interviews and produce a film to help demonstrate the process and educate the public on how structures can be preserved until funds are available for full restorations.

Ninth-graders Brian Jarrell and Tyler Carden were named co-directors and producers of the film.

“A lot of these buildings are taken down or replaced with newer buildings, and it is destroying history,” explained Jarrell.

Carden said he is proud of the project because it will be the first piece he has worked on for a wider audience.

“Making a documentary was a change of pace and there was a lot of learning involved. I watched some documentaries to make sure I’d have a good idea of what kind of shots we’d need,” he said.

Carden scaled a tall pole to position a Go-Pro camera for a great time-lapse shot of the work.

Both students said the project was a huge opportunity to learn about historic preservation and filming.

Liberty teacher Jeremy Rodriguez accompanied the students to Helen and found himself interested in the process as much as his students.

“I was struck by the fact that it costs less to mothball a structure than tear it down, and preserving the structure allows the community more opportunities for grants,” he said.

Rotenizer said historic preservation efforts at the Helen apartment building are being approached as a learning lab, and having before and after perspectives provides a great teaching tool to encourage others to use the preservation process.

“By involving students, we are helping to expose a new generation to the importance of historic preservation, community revitalization and community pride,” said Rotenizer. “I enjoyed watching the enthusiasm the students had for the project. It was not just some class assignment, but something they had personal ownership toward. You can’t beat that kind of passion.”

“People don’t realize what it means when you clean out 6.31 tons of debris from a building in one day - they can now watch how it happens,” he added.

The film will debut at this month’s West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service meeting and will be made available on Volunteer West Virginia’s YouTube channel.

George Bragg Photography provided aerial drone footage of the cleanup for the project.

Jarrell does game design and computer animation in his spare time and Carden has his own YouTube channel where he films himself performing drum set covers.

Liberty students composed and created the film soundtrack on GarageBand computer software.

Agencies involved in the architectural mothballing included We Grow: Winding Gulf Restoration Organization, National Coal Heritage Highway Authority, Department of Environmental Protection, Raleigh County Commission, Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority, Mountain State Leaders Program, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia and the WVU State Extension Service.

Volunteers are needed to continue the mothballing project.

Monday, Lynn Stasick, the Statewide Field Services Coordinator for the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, will be on hand to coordinate the continuation of the project

Volunteers are needed throughout the day to help with the placement of plywood over window openings, as well as other tasks. No prior experience is required, just a willingness to learn.


Information from: The Register-Herald, https://www.register-herald.com

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