Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2009

Wickie’s Wisdom

Every Citizen and Every Lighthouse Group Must Now Step Forward

By Timothy Harrison

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Thanks to the efforts of Senators Levin and Stabenow, both from Michigan, the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 2008 was introduced in the United States Senate.

This is something that was long overdue and if it had been introduced and passed, as it should have been, in conjunction with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, the ownership of more of our historic lighthouses would most likely have gone to more nonprofits and local communities. Instead, many obscure and remote lighthouses were auctioned off to the general public and fell into private hands.

This Senate bill has the potential to secure as much as $20 million dollars in “no-match,” money that is currently available from an old tonnage tax that dates back to the founding of our country that is levied on foreign ships. In fact money from this tax was used to build the second tower at Boston Harbor Lighthouse. Under the proposed bill, the money, which is available, would be distributed in a weighted ratio to every state that has lighthouses. Money distributed under the program would go to communities and nonprofits that own a lighthouse and need money to help with the restoration of the historic structure and save it for future generations.

It is now time for every private citizen who is interested in historic preservation, and every lighthouse group in the nation, to band together and start a massive lobbying and letter writing campaign to their respective federal Senators and members of the federal House of Representatives and encourage them to support the reintroduction of Senate Bill S 3555.IS — The National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 2008.

Please remember, do not write to your legislators in your state capitol, but instead write to the Senators and Representatives from your state that represent your state in Washington DC.

There is now a real chance to secure federal funding to help many communities and small nonprofit lighthouse groups save many lighthouses that were originally built using taxpayer money. Additionally, you might even consider asking your federal legislators to stop the Coast Guard from excessing lighthouses and stop GSA from selling lighthouses at auction until the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act passes and is signed into law.

Lighthouses are among the oldest standing historic buildings built by the federal government in America. They are a monument to our past. Lighthouses are largely credited in helping our country grow into the great nation that we are today. One can learn, directly and indirectly, more about early American history by studying lighthouses than from any other single source.

You can make a difference in the New Year.

Please, get involved by personally sending a letter and urge your local lighthouse group to step forward and write your Senators and Representatives and ask them to support the reintroduction of Senate Bill S3555.IS - The National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 2008. Time is of the essence.

Please act today and make “2009, The Year of the Lighthouses.”

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2009 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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