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TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin received the prestigious Governmental Leadership Award today, Friday, March 30, 2012 for the work they did to preserve and enhance the Petty’s Run archeological site in Trenton.

The award is presented annually to elected officials who have demonstrated exemplary service to the New Jersey history community. They received the award at a ceremony that was part of the 19th annual New Jersey History Issues Convention at the Trenton War Memorial.

Mercer County and the New Jersey DEP in September 2011 agreed to a joint, cost-shared project to preserve and restore the Petty’s Run archeological site and to create a historical interpretive center at the site, which is located adjacent to the Statehouse.

“Preservation of this dig site, where artifacts of Trenton’s pre-Revolutionary industrial ingenuity have been unearthed, will be achieved because we’ve been able to come up with a creative and cooperative solution,’’ County Executive Hughes said at the time of the agreement. “Trenton is steeped in history and whenever possible, we should do everything in our power to maintain its historic integrity. The preservation of Petty’s Run is a win for the people of Mercer County and all of New Jersey.’’

The DEP had planned to close and properly preserve the site, after removing historic artifacts — a proposal that was approved in December 2010 by the Joint Management Commission. It was deemed too costly in 2010, at some $1.3 million, for the DEP to enhance and manage the site, especially as it sought to keep open all of its existing parks, natural areas and existing historic sites during a state fiscal crisis. But the DEP and Mercer County found a way to work together to finance the stabilization of Petty’s Run as an interpretive site for historic preservation.

Petty’s Run contains features of the early historic period of industrial activities in Trenton and Colonial America, including remnants of a plating mill built in the 1730s, a steel mill built in the mid-1740s, and Trenton’s first cotton mill, built in 1812. Archeological work already done at the site has yielded valuable insights into industrial development, beginning with a pre-Revolutionary War iron mill through the post-Civil War period.