Yesterday I was elected as the new Chair of the State Review Board for Historic Preservation. The SRB (that’s what we call it for short) is an advisory board to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. The SRB is charged with the review of National Register of Historical Places (NRHP) nominations and nomination appeals and to provide general advice and professional recommendations to the State Historic Preservation Officer.
I have served on the SRB since 2010 and was just recently appointed to another four-year term. I have found this a very rewarding form of service. I enjoy helping property owners get recognition for their holdings and, perhaps, leverage that recognition into money and/or momentum to improve (restore, adapt, whatever) said property. Additionally, I passively learn a great deal about local Arkansas history from the wonderful nominations that come under our consideration.
I have big shoes to fill. My predecessor, Dr. Ann Early, is the Arkansas State Archeologist and has been involved with historic preservation in the state since she arrived in Arkansas in 1972. During her term as chair, Dr. Early kept the SRB on track and “out of the weeds” amid our meetings in an admirable way. Additionally, I am, in all likelihood, not the first choice as the next chair of the SRB…That would probably have been Dr. Ben Johnson–my old colleague at Southern Arkansas University and former Vice-Chair of the SRB. Dr. Johnson is currently serving as interim Provost of that institution, so he is a bit busy at the moment. Dr. Johnson always brings a deliberative pragmatism and canny political acumen to the discussion, and I always appreciate his input to any question. This will not have been the first time I have stepped into a position that Ben could not…and I am considering posting on my CV a “Netflix-like” recommendation: “If you liked Ben Johnson, you may also like Jamie Brandon.” That doesn’t bother me. I have an enormous respect for Dr. Johnson and his work…so I’ll take being “the next best thing” any day. However, as I said, between Drs. Early and Johnson, I have big shoes to fill.
I’ll have great help, however. Baxter Sharp of Brinkley will serve as my Vice-Chair and Anne Wagner Speed of Little Rock will serve as Secretary for at least the next 2 years. It’s a great board–fun people and rewarding service….So I look forward to my term as Chair of the SRB.