By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Faced a city-imposed Nov. 3 deadline to be out of Heritage Center, the Clack Museum will close Saturday and reopen in the Holiday Village Shopping Center.
The county museum board approved a lease with the shopping center Thursday evening. Ron VandenBoom, chair of the museum board, said the lease will now go to the Hill County Attorney's Office for review and then to the Hill County Commission for approval.
He asked Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette to make sure the review is expedited so the museum can meet the Nov. 3 deadline.
"We're going to do everything we can to be out by the third," he said before Thursday's board meeting.
Board member Lou Lucke asked if the public was being given enough advance notice if the museum closed Saturday.
"I think the public is going to have to grin and bear it on this one," VandenBoom said. "We're under the gun."
The city of Havre has evicted the tenants of the former U.S. post office and federal courthouse, giving them notice on Oct. 4 that they had until Nov. 3 to leave the building.
The city bought the building from the U.S. Postal Service in 1996 and leased it to the Clack Foundation. The foundation turned the building back over to the city on July 1, saying it didn't have enough money to pay for utilities, maintenance and repairs.
The city of Havre has put the building up for sale, also saying it can't afford the cost of keeping it open.
Museum board member Valerie Hickman said the closure is necessary so that museum manager Emily Mayer Lossing has time to pack the displays and get them out of the museum by Nov. 3.
"Emily needs to start packing," Hickman said.
VandenBoom said the Holiday Village space will cost $800 a month, $775 for rent and $25 for a merchant fee, plus utilities. The museum board, a county entity, will pay the rent and fee on a quarterly basis, he said.
The Havre City Council in July approved charging the museum $1,200 in rent for the space in the Heritage Center. The museum previously had stayed in the building rent-free.
If the lease passes legal review and the county commissioners approve it, the museum will transfer its operation to the Holiday Village in the location now occupied by the toy store Raising Kayne, VandenBoom said. Raising Kayne would move to a new location in the shopping center.
The museum hours would remain the same, 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with the museum board controlling any changes in the hours. The gift shop will continue to operate, with the proceeds going to fund the museum's operation.
The shopping center has offered space in the mall for storage, including in the old projector room above the Community Center, which used to be a theater, VandenBoom said.
VandenBoom appointed a committee to start planning the move and another to review the museum budget to free up money for the rent payments. The board will have to meet to approve the line-item budget changes to free up the money, he added.
The displays will be dissassembled and numbered for re-assembly, with the layout of the displays plotted in the new location in advance.
VandenBoom said he would welcome help to pack the museum displays and move them, including from service groups and other organizations, but that the volunteers would have to be under close supervision.
"These are very delicate and irreplaceable displays," he said.