|First posted Dec 13, 2007|
Last update Apr 17, 2013
This article appeared in the Potomac News, a local Northern Virginia newspaper, back when I was volunteering at Manassas Battlefield. I had been working on the Park's web page for about 3 months when this was written. The Potomac News has changed hands several times and is no longer in production as an independent. Wikipedia article.
History buff gets battlefield on-lineBy Mike Fuchs,
June 30, 1996
Frank Harrell clicks his mouse, revealing a colored map of Manassas National Battlefield Park.
A few more clicks reveal computer scanned photos of President Lincoln, Civil War generals and local landmarks.
Harrell, 45, is reviewing his latest work - the recently completed home page for Manassas National Battlefield Park on the World Wide Web.
Putting the park on the Internet was easy for Harrell, a self-proclaimed "computer nut who has volunteered more than 3,000 hours at the park during the past three years.
"It's a lot of fun," he said during a recent interview at his park office near U.S. 29 and Pageland Lane.
"The goal is to have general information about the park." he said.
Park superintendent Robert Sutton considers Harrell's computer work critical. Harrell installed the park's computers. He also installed the wiring at the recently relocated park headquarters.
It's also saving taxpayers more than a $100,000 in tight budget times, said Sutton, referring to the cost of hiring a computer expert.
"If he ever left I would have a major rebellion." Sutton said. "He is very highly thought of by everybody in the park."
Indeed, Harrell even has his own parking space. Not even Sutton has that.
The park home page, meanwhile, offers the public a chance to comment on the 5,100 acre park, which features 30 miles of hiking trials, guided tours, a visitors center and historic landmarks.
More than 800,000 people visit the park annually.
Residents, for example, can e-mail the park about proposed changes to the 1983 general management plan, which is expected to be revised in August 1998.
The plan can also be reviewed on the park home page. The e-mail address is (no longer the same).
Harrell can afford to volunteer full time at the park. A few wise land investments and an inheritance enabled him to quit his last job. He worked as a computer assistant at the Reston Homeowners Association in the late 1980s.
He was the Reston Community Center's technical director in the early 1980s, and served as a service technician for Warner Cable in Reston for five years.
"It gives me a lot of enjoyment to be able to help." he said. I really love the parks. It's a good place to volunteer."
Park enthusiasts can access the home page by typing www.nps.gov/mana.