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Museum board plans to draft understandings with fair board


After the H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum Foundation president told the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum Board Monday about a discussion she had with the Great Northern Fair Board, the museum board agreed to hold a special meeting to write memorandums of understanding to present the fair board.

“I think this is our opportunity to put together all the stuff that is over there with our understanding of the agreements,” foundation President Elaine Morse said.

Morse said that she attended the Great Northern Fair Board meeting May 21 and told the board her understanding of the history between the fair board and the museum board and agreements between the two. At the end of that meeting, fair board Chair Tyler Smith told her that the fair board would like to see a memorandum of understanding it could vote on which would put in writing the terms and agreements made to store the museum board’s items at the fairgrounds, in addition to a memorandum of understanding listing responsibilities.

After the fair board proposed using the Great Northern Railway caboose located on the fairgrounds, the museum board told it that the caboose belonged to the museum. That has led to several months of discussion of which entity is responsible for what at the fairgrounds, including the museum’s Faber Schoolhouse and Homestead Shack and antique farming equipment at the fairgrounds.

Morse said that she told the board about some of the history She added that the museum board moved the museum in the 1990s from its location on the fairgrounds to the Heritage Center — now the Havre Historic Post Office — the board gave the fair board the former museum building on the north side of the fairgrounds, part of which the board is having remodeled into new offices for the fairgrounds, as well as the RV campground, a garage and some lawn equipment. The agreement included the fair board making a payment to the museum board, part of its annual county mill levy, for 10 years.

She said both groups are county entities and should cooperate.

“Us is us and why can’t we work together,” she said.

She said Smith, who served on the museum board for 10 years, had no idea of any of the past agreements between the two boards.

Morse said the fair board said they were under the impression that the museum board dumped items off at the fairgrounds and left them, and she told the fair board the museum board has worked to maintain its buildings and equipment over the years, such as re-roofing the Faber School building.

The two boards had a number of informal agreements, some of which have never been honored, she said, such as having the fair board being responsible for some of the maintenance at the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump.

Museum Board member Val Hickman said that agreement was never honored.

Morse said that because the boards are both made up of volunteers, information has been lost over the years as the boards and the county commissioners turn over to new members who do not know the agreements and not understanding they should have been honored.

She said the fair board said in May that the bottom line is the fair board never gave the museum board permission for putting more farm equipment on the fairgrounds this year, although the board said it could be put there as long as the museum board put some gravel or weed block down.

Morse said she told the fair board that the foundation and museum board are not opposed to the fair board using the caboose, but because it belongs to the museum, should be a group effort.

She added that she believes the information she provided the Fair Board at its meeting was able to get the point across that “us is us.”

“I think it was fairly well received,” Morse said.

She said she hopes the fair board will attend the special meeting to draft the memorandums once its date is set.

H. Earl Clack Museum and Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump Manager Emily Mayer said that the museum has received a number of donations within the past month and the Clack Museum and the Buffalo Jump saw a large number of people during the Living History event.

During Memorial Day Weekend, the museum received a donation of a 1930s Victrola record player and radio as well as some records, she said, and antique clothes including hats, pocket books and an antique prom dress.

“That was kind of nice,” Mayer said.

Police Chief Gabe Matosich donated four checks issued by Havre for various payments, such as a payment to police officers for $16 dated 1916, she said.

She said that someone also anonymously dropped off a railroad signal light, which is missing the glass lenses, but has GNRR — Great Northern RailRoad — written on it.

Mayer added that the buffalo jump has also hired two new tour guides and plans to bring on two more tour guides soon, and has staff returning to the museum this summer.

She said that they will have a good amount of staff throughout the summer until the school year begins.

Mayer said that the museum saw about 67 visitors during the Living History event, which was down from last year which was 72.

“But that isn’t a bad day for the museum,” she said.

She added that the Buffalo Jump saw about 55 people for tours and 48 people who visited the interpretive center during Living History.

Turnout at all of the historical locations, such as Fort Assinniboine and Havre Beneath the Streets, saw a similar small drop in attendance this year compared to last year, she added.

“We were down a little bit in both places,” Mayer said. “… Everybody was down this year, but I didn’t think that we did too badly.”


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