The Barton County Historical Society can’t preserve the past without preparing for the future, members were reminded at the BCHS annual meeting.
Approximately 30 members met Monday at the Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village, where they shared a meal before the business meeting.
“It has been an interesting year, to say the least,” said Paul Maneth, president of the BCHS Board of Directors.
The year included the retirement of longtime Executive Director Beverly Komarek and the decision to hire Tina Mingenback for the position at the end of 2018.
Mingenback reported that 1,129 people visited the museum in 2018, a 7 percent increase from the previous year. Of the visitors counted, 820 were from Kansas, 304 were from other U.S. states and five were from other countries. Among the Kansas visitors, Great Bend residents had the highest attendance.
Mingenback and BCHS Research Coordinator Karen Neuforth would visit Jefferson Elementary School in Great Bend on Tuesday, which was Kansas Day, to speak to Pam Jordan’s kindergarten class.
They helped the children go through the ABC’s using things found in Kansas, such as “H is for Honeybees.”
Programming for children is an important part of the BCHS mission.
This year, Mingenback said, Holy Family School will join the Great Bend USD 428 third graders who attend the museum’s Pioneer Day. She hopes other third graders at private schools will be able to join the annual program in the future.
During the budget report presented at Monday’s meeting, treasurer Barry Bowers said about $26,000 has been added to the budget for salaries and payroll taxes. Although other paid staff received 3 percent raises, the bulk of the increase is for the new executive director’s salary. Bowers said the board had agreed that “a more appropriate salary” was in order for the position that Komarek held for more than 20 years.
Volunteer coordinator Karen Naylor reported that about 40 volunteers assisted the museum last year, which is also what she reported for 2017. She can always use more volunteers, especially on Saturdays, and another volunteer orientation will be held in the spring. Anyone interested can inquire at the museum.
The building and grounds committee, which includes Carl Helm, Vernon Hayes and Randy Suchy, oversaw roof repairs and work on a wall on the Transportation Building, which Helm said was bulging. “You could push and move the wall out,” he said. That has been repaired.
“We bought a few things,” Helm said, but “six businesses donated stuff and equipment we could use. The building is in good shape again.”
“Randy, Carl and Vernon stepped up and did a significant amount of work this year,” Maneth said. Finding donations and volunteers to accomplish the work is always a bonus.
The museum is located just south of the Arkansas River bridge on U.S. 281 in Great Bend and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday in the winter. For more information call 620-793-5125.