Vote ?yes' to preserve history

This newspaper has followed the Eagle Point Museum and its historical society since its inception. We covered the moving of the old schoolhouse across the bridge and into its current location. We joined the community in celebrating a way to preserve our Eagle Point history. We followed the difficulty the historical folks had when they joined with other museums and learned they had to obey certain rules and regulations. We noted the two additions to the facility and the addition of the Wood House to the museum’s acquisitions. We have followed the good times and the bad times. We noted the museum activities and we noted a lack of communication with the curator, who left several years ago.
 

This brings us to the present and more issues with this beloved, but challenging community asset.
   
With
the lack of funding for all county museums, the $30,000 or so received
by the Eagle Point Museum annually ended April 2007. While the museum
has managed to be quite frugal, it certainly does have expenses
including such things as utilities, insurance, repairs and upkeep, to
name a few. It should not come as a surprise to anyone that at some
point operating the museum would have to end unless there was some
guaranteed income.
   
Board members expressed concern over
the future of their beloved child.  The by-laws say that in case the
museum can no longer operate, one of the options would be to turn it
over to the city. A new owner purchased the Wood House property and
reduce the lease on the land to $1 a year. With that opportunity and
with the idea that the city might be interested in seeing that the
museum continue as a community asset, the board of directors voted to
begin the process to preserve both the Wood House and the museum. The
city was most interested.
   
The board voted to give the Wood
House to the Wood House Preservation Group once they obtained their
501c3 non-profit status (which happened about 10 days-two weeks ago).
And, the board voted to turn the assets of the Eagle Point Museum over
to the city, which would do away with the 501c3.  The city council
voted to approve this move. Many hours were devoted to inventory the
assets.
   
These changes were done with the approval of the
board of directors. And these changes were reported just as we have
reported the history of the museum and society for its entire
existence.
   
When a board votes, it is part of good
boardsmanship to support the board’s decision.  For many months the
board has operated under the belief that once approval came from the
state for the Wood House Preservation Group, the next step would be to
finally, officially and legally, turn the museum over to the City of
Eagle Point. That had been the vote of the board.
   
At a June 
board of directors meeting, board member Helen Wolgamott asked that the
501c3 status remain and that there continue to be an Eagle Point
Historical Society. This request was certainly not in keeping with any
decision made by the board for the last 18 months. President Ralph
McKechnie recommended the board come back in July with reasons for and
against such a move.
   
And at the July meeting, there was
considerable discussion regarding the question.  Wolgamott seemed to
feel if the city took over the affairs it would hurt all the other
museums. She noted the Historic District is attempting to get a measure
on the May ballot (their deadline for signatures is Sept. 19 and as of
late last week they said they were just half way there and they have
been collecting signatures for some period of time, having missed their
first deadline. Should they make the ballot, and should it pass, it
will probably be 2010 before funds are collected. )
   
It was
pointed out that a 501c3 would continue to have all the issues the
historical board has currently, filing of tax reports, obtaining a
board and leadership of it, expenses, a charter and by-laws, a need for
funding, and so on. By a vote of 4-2, the board voted not to continue a
501c3.
   
Wolgamott then called the attorney who has worked
pro bono for the society and asked if an Eagle Point Historical Society
could continue. He answered "yes." She failed, however,  to tell him
the board had voted not to continue it. Armed with the attorney’s "yes"
opinion we believe she is campaigning for something she does not
understand based on her biased question to legal counsel.  And should
she be successful, we have no doubt it will mean the Wood House and the
Museum will soon truly be part of history-past history.
   
There
is no reason community members can’t form a Friends of the Museum group
if they are sincerely interested in the museum and in Eagle Point
history.
   
It should be noted that based on the historical
board’s vote months ago and on the city council’s vote months ago, the
city has budgeted money in the 2008-09 budget to actually pay for some
help to keep the museum open longer.
   
We can’t make it any
plainer-those who are museum members will soon receive a ballot. Follow
the recommendation of the board of directors and vote "yes" to transfer
assets to the Wood House Preservation Group and to the City of Eagle
Point and vote "yes" to dissolve the 501c3.
Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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