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County Administrator Fired in Wal-Mart Dispute

A seasoned county administrator who suggested a compromise in the long-playing Wilderness Battlefield Vs. Wal-Mart drama was fired late Friday after a closed door meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Orange County, Va.

Bill Rolfe, 59, was hired four years ago after a 16-year stint with Bedford County, Va. doing the same work. On June 15, he sent an email to the supervisors suggesting it was in the county's best interest for Wal-Mart to buildsomewhere else in the county rather than at the edge of the national battlefield park.

According to, the board voted 3 to 2 to oust Rolfe because of his email. In a statement made after the meeting, Supervisor Mark Johnson told reporters that "the substance of Mr. Rolfe's email was highly dubious" because the county would not benefit from the Wal-Mart being located elsewhere.

About two-thirds of the speakers at a public hearing before the board's planning commission last month spoke in favor of having a Wal-Mart in the county but not next to the battlefield. The commission voted 5 to 4 in favor of Wal-Mart's preferred location near th battlefield, but only if a number of restrictions on siting and traffic control were part of the deal.

The Civil War Preservation Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, among others, have campaigned against Wal-Mart building a 138,000-square-foot super-center across a road from the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park where the Battle of the Wilderness took place May 5-6, 1864.

The supervisors have scheduled a public meeting on the Wal-Mart issue for July 27 at 7 p.m. at the Orange County High School.

By Linda Wheeler  |  July 5, 2009; 11:48 AM ET
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