By Elaine Morse
I would like to take this opportunity to update interested members of your reading audience on the progress and events occurring at the Heritage Center. It has been about 11 months since I first wrote a letter to the editor of the Havre Daily News to ask for our community's support of the Heritage Center. I am pleased to report on the great progress the Clack Museum Foundation has been able to make over the past year in trying to reach our goals of supporting the Clack Museum, Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump and the Heritage Center.
First and foremost, through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the foundation has been able to make the last payment for the building to the U.S. Postal Service. This assures the building now belongs to the city of Havre and will remain a vital part of Havre's downtown historical area. The Clack Foundation continues to work with Havre's mayor and City Council in order to finalize a mutually beneficial operating plan.
A year ago, one of the foundation's biggest financial drains was our approximately $2,800 per month utility bill. I am pleased to report the implementation of several energy saving plans (such as the new energy efficient window installation, energy efficient fixtures, review of contracts and conservation efforts) has resulted in the change of our monthly budget billing amount being decreased to slightly less than $1,000 per month. We continue to review opportunities in this area and are currently pursuing a grant to install energy efficient light bulbs throughout the building.
The Clack Museum was closed for the winter season due to financial concerns, but during the off-season, our capable volunteers, most notably Toni Hagener and Elinor Clack, have done a magnificent job updating the museum's displays and exhibits. Please stop in and see the museum's new look. We look forward to your visit and comments.
Over the past year, the board members of both the Clack Museum Foundation and the Clack Museum have been working diligently to help the members of our community recognize the vision our boards share regarding the huge potential the Heritage Center and the Clack Museum can fulfill for our community. We have jointly sponsored or hosted many events over the past year, including monthly celebrity luncheons, cooking classes and demonstrations, Saturday morning children's activities and stories, the summer lecture series, a magic show and the children's carnival. This is in addition to the museum offerings and the artists' work featured in our art gallery. If you have had the opportunity to join us for one or more of these events, I am sure you truly appreciate both the variety of offerings and the majesty of our building. I hope you will continue to support our activities through your attendance, suggestions and financial support.
We continue to actively pursue funding from various sources, including grants and donations. I am pleased to announce the Clack Museum Foundation has been the recipient of a unique funding opportunity. A charitable Montana foundation, who has requested anonymity, has offered to match, dollar for dollar, all monies our foundation can raise for our endowment fund up to our goal of reaching $250,000.
For those unfamiliar with the premise of an endowment fund, I will try to offer a brief explanation. The endowment fund was established as a permanent fund for the Clack Foundation to support the Clack Museum. The bylaws of the Clack Foundation established the guidelines for our endowment fund. The monies in our endowment fund may not be utilized for any purposes until the total of the fund reaches the specified $250,000 and upon reaching the goal then only 80 percent of the interest accrued over the $250,000 may be utilized at the discretion of the Clack Foundation. These bylaws were enacted to ensure a permanent funding source to promote museum growth and development. Over the approximately 15 to 20 years since the founding of the Clack Museum Foundation, the board members have been responsible stewards of this endowment fund and have overseen the growth of the endowment fund to its current balance of approximately $170,000. Therefore, we would need to raise approximately $80,000 to bring the total to the specified level. The offer by the anonymous foundation to provide matching funds lowers the amount we would need to raise to one-half that total ($40,000). This is a unique opportunity to double the impact of your donations. For example, your donation of $25 will add a total of $50 to the endowment. I ask you to thoughtfully consider a donation, whether large or small, to the Clack Museum Foundation specifically earmarked for the endowment fund to help us achieve our goal to augment the fund to a level where the interest will help ensure the Clack Museum, Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump and the Heritage Center continue to serve our community. The Clack Foundation is officially the H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum Foundation and is established as a 501(c)(3) corporation, and donations are tax deductible as allowed.
Please feel free to contact us at the foundation office at 265-7258 for more information or stop in at the office located on the main floor of the Heritage Center. Donations may be mailed to or dropped off at 306 Third Ave.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I would be glad to attempt to answer any questions you may have regarding the Heritage Center, the Clack Museum Foundation, Clack Museum or Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump. Our foundation board members include Keith Lokensgard, Lynda Taplin, Nancy Pegar, Gary Wilson, Ardelle Hurlburt, Jim Tautges, Loy Chvilicek, Raela Hulett, Bud Baldwin, Linda Hinkle, Margaret Hencz and Elaine Morse, with Debra VandenBoom as the building manager. The Hill County Clack Museum board members are Lou Lucke, Val Hickman, Tracey Warburton, Gloria Tilleman, Betty Callies, Ron VandenBoom and Kelly Jones. All the members of the boards serve in a volunteer capacity and join me in thanking you in advance for your support. It has always been the strength and support of people in our community that has sustained our growth and has pulled us through even the most difficult times, so again thank you and I hope you will support us by your contributions whether through your time, attendance, suggestions or monetary donations.
Elaine Morse is vice president of the H. Earl Clack Museum Foundation.