Meeting to chart future history society needs

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The local historical society is inviting the public to attendits first and only meeting inside its newly converted museum,offering the chance for people to contribute ideas to museum’sformation and get one last look at the former Temple B’nai Shalombefore it’s filled with Lincoln County artifacts.

The Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society will meetat the temple on Church Street Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to discussideas for setting up the museum, plan for future fundraisers andhear a pair of presentations on local history.

Guest speaker Larry Butler will deliver a history of Fair OaksSprings school, which closed in 1960, and the society will deliveran update on its St. Stephens Road project, a compilation ofhistory surrounding the trail that once ran from Natchez, throughBrookhaven and on to Alabama.

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“We’ve got a lot of activities going on,” said societychairwoman Rita Rich. “The public can hear our plans as far as themuseum, and that’s not going to be a small task.”

The most pressing issue at hand for the museum is money, Richsaid.

She said the society has about $13,000 in its account, but isfacing an immediate expenditure of close to $6,000 for a centralheating and air unit for the museum. Likewise, annual utility costsare unknown, but will be higher than the $2,500 per year price ofmaintaining the temple when it was rarely used.

Insuring the museum is expected to cost around $2,000 per year,Rich said.

The society is also facing several deposits to get utilitiesconnected to the building under the society’s name, and will haveto buy display cases for the artifacts or the materials to buildthem, Rich said.

Rich said Lincoln County supervisors appropriated $5,000 for themuseum out of their fiscal year 2010 budget, but Brookhavenaldermen did not make a financial contribution.

The first step toward raising money will be to sell the seatsthat once seated the Jewish congregation of the temple. Plans callfor the seats’ honor markers to be removed and saved for themuseum, but the seats must go to make room for future exhibits.Thursday’s meeting will be the last time the seats remain in theformer temple.

Rich said the society is hoping to solicit donations from localbusinesses and hold a silent auction in early December to coincidewith the annual Tour of Homes.

“Right now, we’ve got money to do what we need to do, andhopefully we’ll raise more, but I don’t know how much we’re goingto have to be able to open the museum as much as we would like,”she said. “It just depends on what kind of support we get from thepublic.”

The society is always open to tax-deductible donations, Richsaid, and interested people may join the society for $10 atThursday’s meeting. Annual dues will be renewable for $20 inJanuary, she said.

Aside from financial discussions, the society will also shareits vision for the museum at Thursday’s meeting. Work on setting upthe artifact selection committee is almost complete and boardmembers will begin reviewing items soon, Rich said.

“There’s a lot of work to do as far as planning,” she said.”We’re just now beginning with the work of actually setting themuseum up as a museum.”