Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
Representatives of the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum Board told the Hill County Commission Monday it will formally request having a study conducted to find the best site for a museum permanent location, which is now housed in the Holiday Village Mall west of Havre. “I think the museum board is kind of at a crossroads right now, trying to best plan for the future of the museum,” Krystal Steinmetz, vice chair of the board, said this morning. “I think this will answer a lot of those questions.” Steinmetz and Val Hickman, chair of the board, and Wahkpa Chu’gn bison kill archeological site managers John and Anna Brumley met with the county commission Monday to discuss that and other issues. The museum was housed in the old post office on Third Street and Third Avenue from 1996 to 2004. Its board has discussed building a new facility on the Great Northern Fairgrounds, which could complement another project, the construction of a visitors and cultural center also being planned at the fairgrounds. In March, the Clack Museum Foundation made another proposal: purchasing the Baltrusch Construction building west of the Holiday Village to house the museum, citing its location right next to the Wahkpa Chu’gn bison kill archeological site behind the shopping center as an additional benefit. Steinmetz said this morning the museum board approved Monday writing a request to the county commisison to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to conduct a preliminary architectural report that will examine the costs and benefits of using an existing structure, like the Baltrusch building, or building a new structure at the fairground or other locations. The county commisison Monday also said conducting the study could be the best route. “This could come up with exactly what we want,” said Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette. Steinmetz said this morning that the foundation has said it will provide matching funds for the grant to do the study, up to $15,000. In other issues the Brumleys asked if the county commission would consider including restoration of the first display at the site in another planned project, repairing the paved surface of its walking path. Brumley said erosion has started to damage the display, and if the projects are grouped together it could help with funding both. Another issue the Brumleys raised was keeping weeds down at the site. If that work isn’t started early, the work can be overwhelming, Anna Brumley said. “We just need to have something done,” John Brumley said. The group discussed using different kinds of mowers, spraying for weeds or having sheep graze in the site to keep the weeds down. The commissioners raised concerns about safety in using power equipment on the steep sides of the walking trail. The group agreed to continue looking into the best way to keep weeds down at the trail and stops at the site. John Brumley said keeping the weeds down would help with the annual atlatl competition, where people compete at the site with a traditional device to throw javelins. He said that more than 100 people came to compete at the event last fall. The group also discussed changing the job description for the manager of the Clack Museum before putting out an advertisement for the position, which is not filled. Volunteers are currently staffing the museum. Hickman said that the way applications are scored now to decide who should be interviewed could rule out some highly qualified candidates. A major emphasis is on budgeting and supervising staff, while she would rather it focus more skills that would benefit the museum operations and Working with visitors to the museum, she said. The commission members also shared with the group a communication from Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson, in which she recommended positions like the museum director and others like the director of Beaver Creek Park be placed in direct supervision of the Hill County Commission rather than of supervisory boards like the park board and museum board. Because the boards often meet only once a month, Peterson wrote, it can lead to delays in supervision of staff or in addressing problems or issues that arise. Besssette said that the change would allow the county commission to respond quickly to issues that could arise. “Also,” she said, “the commission is ultimately responsible” for all county entities.