Flight 93 Advisory Commission meets

By Vicki Rock Daily American

The Flight 93 Advisory Commission on Saturday discussed the needs of the youngest visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial.

Commission member Michael Watson asked how what happened on Flight 93 is explained to elementary school children who weren’t born prior to September 11, 2001. He said that the need goes beyond Flight 93 to include events like the Boston Marathon bombing.

Commission member Donna Glessner, who chaired the meeting, said the Junior Ranger program is in the testing phase. University of Pittsburgh professor Dr. Mary Margaret Kerr and graduate students, along with the National Park Service, are developing a Junior Ranger Handbook for children. Students from Pitt’s Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School visited the site on Thursday to provide feedback. There are also DVDs available that are sent to groups taking bus tours.

Commission member Larry Catuzzi suggested that a curriculum be developed for local schools because the foundation established in his late daughter’s honor, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, conducts interviews to award scholarships in Shanksville and Somerset schools.

Students may not know much about what happened in their own county. National Park Service Site Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said one of the goals of the future Visitor Center and Learning Center will be to have a curriculum available to schools.

King Laughlin, Vice President of the National Park Foundation, announced that more than $33 million in private funds have been donated by more than 125,000 individuals, corporations and foundations. Funding is partially complete for the Learning Center and the design of the Tower of Voices.

The commission members were told that Mary Jo Meyers, wife of General Richard B. Meyers and sponsor of the USS Somerset, is working on a quilt project. Each family of the 40 crew and passengers of Flight 93 will be represented by a square of the quilt to be displayed on the ship. The ship’s commissioning date and location have not yet been announced.

At the Families of Flight 93 meeting, President Gordon Felt said the families are also working with the crew of the USS Somerset for a photograph display on the ship. The designers of the Congressional Gold Medal to be given to all the September 11 families will visit each of the three sites to get first hand knowledge before working on the designs.

About 600 volunteers planted 15,900 trees during the April reforestation.

“The main complaint, even on days it snowed, was that they wanted more trees,” Reinbold said.

National Park Service Assistant Superintendent Keith Newlin said the preliminary design of the 1.2-mile ring road is completed. It will give visitors an alternative exit. The road is to be built in 2014. About 25 subcontractors attended the pre-bid meeting for the Visitor Center construction project. The notice to proceed should be issued in July, with the project to be done in 2015.

National Park Service Chief of Interpretation Barbara Black said an additional segment has been added to the cellphone tour. So far, 17,000 calls have been made by people taking the tour. It is one of the top-rated cell phone tours in the National Park Service system, Black said.

A film producer for the Discovery Channel requested collaboration for a film about people who were planning to travel on Flight 93 but who did not take the flight. This film will be released in September.

The Friends of Flight 93 also announced they are currently interviewing candidates for the executive director position. The mid-year membership meeting is planned for July 29.

Reinbold said since this September 11 is not a milestone anniversary, the committee is planning a smaller event similar to last year’s anniversary.

Patrick White, Vice President of the Families of Flight 93, said the Western District Court in Pittsburgh has decided that a three-person panel will hear the voluntary condemnation of the Svonavec Inc. property. This is to determine the amount of compensation. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 7.

The July advisory commission meeting was rescheduled for 10 a.m. September 10.

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