River Valley Towns and Cities Designated Newest
Preserve America Communities
Mrs. Laura Bush and the Department of the Interior honored 24 communities along the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor June 25, 2004, when Assistant Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett announced the First Lady's designation of the Nation's newest Preserve America communities.
Assistant Secretary Scarlett participated in a series of events throughout the Blackstone Valley in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to celebrate this recognition.
Preserve America is a new White House effort to encourage and support community efforts for the preservation and enjoyment of America's priceless cultural and natural heritage.
"Preserve America communities demonstrate that they are committed to preserving America's heritage while ensuring a future filled with opportunities for learning and enjoyment," the First Lady said.
"This new community designation program, combined with the Preserve America Presidential Awards and Federal support, provides strong incentives for continued preservation of our cultural and natural heritage resources. I commend you for your commitment to preserving an important part of our Nation's historic past for visitors, neighbors, and, most importantly, for children."
The celebrations began in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and made stops in Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Sutton, Massachusetts; and Worcester, Massachusetts through the day. A core group of valley representatives traveled by double-decker bus through the communities, making presentations to officials representing each of the 24 cities' and towns' key leaders.
Each community received a certificate of designation signed by Mrs. Bush that the community is a Preserve America Community.
The goals of the Preserve America initiative include: a greater shared knowledge about the Nation's past; strengthened regional identities and local pride; increased local participation in preserving the country's cultural and natural heritage assets; and support for the economic vitality of our communities.
Communities designated through the program receive national recognition for their efforts. Other benefits include use of the Preserve America logo on signs and promotional materials; notification to media, State tourism offices, and visitor bureaus; and listing in a Web-based directory to showcase preservation efforts and highlight heritage tourism destinations.
The Bush Administration's fiscal year 2005 budget contains a request for $10 million in grant funds for which communities meeting the Preserve America criteria will be eligible to apply. These matching fund grants of $50,000 to $250,000 would go on a competitive basis to projects that preserve and use important historic resources for promotion of heritage tourism and other economic revitalization projects.
"You are pioneers in this initiative, which shows just how proud the people of the Blackstone Valley are of their city, State, and their place in our Nation's history," Assistant Secretary Scarlett said.
"Each community's unique and diverse stories are part of the larger chapter of American heritage, culture and values. It is by visiting and experiencing these special places that we have an opportunity to touch the past, and can best understand how the past touches us."
The Department of the Interior partners with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to administer the Preserve America Community program on behalf of the Office of the First Lady.
Updated November 23, 2004