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Museum board talks new items, new technology

The H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum Board met Monday evening, elected new officers, discussed new technology being used at the museum as well as some new possible donated items and the arrival of a new book of local history.

Board Chair David Sageser said a new temporary display has been set up in the museum, but otherwise things have been uneventful.

Board member Val Hickman said she's working on their new item cataloging software, building the indexes and setting it up in a way that's intuitive so the museum can more easily keep track of its various artifacts along with pictures of them in one database.

H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum Foundation Board President Elaine Morse said she was applying for a grant that would pay for the installation of a new elevator in the museum, but the company that makes the kind of elevator they need won't deliver to Montana.

Morse said the structure of the building and their current resources make installation of any other kind of elevator impossible, so she's not sure what to do.

"I am back to square zero," she said.

The board also had a brief discussion on their protocols on when to keep the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump Interpretive Center and the nearby gate to the Jump locked, as some people had arrived thinking the place was closed despite a tour guide being there.

Sageser said their Square-brand credit card readers are now up and running at both the museum and the Jump so they can now take payment with cards as well as cash.

Morse said that should come in handy, especially since she's already had people looking to buy a new book the museum has on sale by credit card.

The book, "In the (Even More) Years Gone By," is an update to the 1964 book "In the Years Gone By," which contained the history of more than 100 individuals and families who homesteaded in the Simpson and Cottonwood areas north of Havre, and the new book adds more histories compiled from people and families who have been contacted since the original book's release.

The new book is on sale exclusively at the museum and Morse said since its release July 5, they've already sold 35 copies. She said that is well-short of what it will take to cover production costs, but it's a good start.

The board also talked about items they are looking to add to the museum, as well as possible donations of items.

Morse said they have secured a cabinet to hold a juvenile dinosaur skeleton, but it will take some effort to get it to the museum.

She also said they recently got their hands on a large historic H. Earl Clack sign, which she said she thinks would look great on the south side of the building but some work needs to be done on it.

Clack, for whom the museum was named, was a major businessman in the area with multiple businesses here and throughout the region.

Another offer Morse talked about was from the North Central Montana Shrine Club, which offered to donate the robes their oriental band often plays in, as the attire has fallen out of fashion and likely won't be used by them again.

Board members said the club is part of the area's history, so it is an interesting prospect.

Sageser said he was recently offered some old branding irons but he's not entirely sure of their history. Board members said they'd look into them to see if they are something the museum would be interested in.

Board members also talked about two different people who spoke to them interested in writing about the museum and jump, one a man writing a book on the Montana Dinosaur Trail who spoke with board member Lela Patera recently, the other a writer from the New York Times who spoke to Sageser about doing a story on the history of the Buffalo Jump.

At the end of the meeting, the board also bid farewell to long-time board member Judi Dritshulas, who requested not to be reappointed by the Hill County Commission.

The board also discussed the possible resignation of Sageser.

He said there is too much going on in his life and he doesn't feel he can do the job any longer.

Morse said she understands, but would hate to see him go and asked if he'd be willing to stay on the board as a normal member.

Sageser said he would be willing to do that and assumed the role of vice-chair with a unanimous vote.

The board voted to have Hickman and Patera co-chair the board and to have Jeanne Gingery assume the role of secretary.


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