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BCHS names Cooper acting board member
Sunday hours at museum eliminated
Barton County Historical Society

The board of directors for the Barton County Historical Society met Monday night and learned that an endowment installment had been received. A new board member was also presented, and action was taken on the hours the museum will be open to the public. 

According to treasurer Barry Bowers during his financial report, an installment on an endowment from the Dorothy Morrison Foundation for the museum started in 2018 had been received the previous week. The endowment, he said, was started with $250,000 at the end of November 2018. The most recent installment of $108,000 is the first of two that are intended to eventually build the fund to $500,000. 

An endowment is a restricted fund, providing only a percentage of the interest earned annually to a non-profit for a stated purpose. It is a long-term investment that helps a non-profit weather the ups and downs of fundraising in a changing economy. The primary purpose of the Morrison endowment is to provide a salary, benefits, and continuing education for a museum director, Bowers said. 

Bowers said the museum would likely not receive funds from the endowment for another year. 

“A few years from now, that will be wonderful,” he said.

Following the report, board president Paul Maneth presented Sue Cooper as a new board member. She joins Lou Button as the second to fill two new director positions added earlier this year in May. This grows the board of directors to 10 members, each holding two-year terms with half the board terms falling on even and the other on odd years.

 Maneth suggested the revision to the society’s by-laws in March, due to the need for increased leadership from the board in anticipation of increase in activities requiring greater board participation. 

Both new members will serve the remainder of the year as “active” board members. In January, they will be up for election by voting society members at the annual meeting. If elected, they will serve out regular two-year terms. 

Maneth responded to questions from the Great Bend Tribune Tuesday afternoon about the increase in activities his proposal alluded to. He stated that there are no specific projects on the horizon and he has no preconceived notions of what the future holds, but as president of the board, he hopes to recruit board members who will take an active role in determining what more could be done to increase community participation with the society.

“It’s a gamble, but if you don’t try, you don’t grow,” he said. 

Cooper made his short list of candidates after her participation with a search committee to find a new museum director last fall. She came recommended by committee chair Arlen Schroeder and officer Barry Bowers, who noted she had been helpful and indicated an interest in the society. Maneth approached her and she said she was interested in serving later in 2019. 

“Sue Cooper will be an asset to the society,” he said. 

After initial objections were quieted, Maneth assured Cooper that she was, according to the by-laws, an active member of the board of directors and would not be required to wait until the January election to begin serving in that capacity. 

The board took action on the number of hours the museum and village will be open to the public beginning in 2020. Effective Nov. 1 and going forward, the museum will no longer be open to the general public on Sundays. 

Action was taken following a proposal and discussion at the July 8 meeting by museum director Tina Mingenback. She reported on research she conducted on the business hours at other area museums, suggesting the board consider adjusting the weekday and weekend hours for the museum. However, after having time to consider how it would affect both staff scheduling and volunteers’ accumulation of hours with RSVP, she revised her proposal to only eliminate Sunday hours. Mingenback said volunteer coordinator Karen Naylor has struggled to find coverage for weekend shifts, and this would lessen the burden.  

Winter hours already have the museum closed to the public on Sundays, and the museum will change over to the winter schedule November 1.