An enthusiastic group of 20 people attended a Monday meeting of Marion County Historical Society in Marion. The organization has been inactive since the late 2000s. This was the third meeting since last fall to determine the direction it will take in the future.
Mary Olson of Peabody coordinated the meeting. It was attended by representatives of almost all of the museums in the county, as well as Steve Schmidt, director of the Cottonwood Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association, and other interested individuals.
Olson said the historical society has a bank account of $2,000 in non-taxpayer money from past activities.
President Howard Collett led the meeting.
“What should we do?” he asked.
The discussion that followed made it obvious the group wanted to retain the organization as one that would promote the history of the county to visitors. Several attendees shared ideas on how to do that.
Gary Ewert of Marion proposed providing a “passport” to visitors that would guide them from one historic site to another. Visitors could note the time of visitation and record personal comments. He said the passport could list eating establishments and bed and breakfasts.
Tammy Ensey, co-owner of the Historic Elgin Hotel, said she would like to see more emphasis on tourism in the county. She suggested if MCHS could become a strong organization, the newly-approved county economic development corporation possibly could help it meet its goals down the road.
Olson noted that museums could spur local business activity in their promotional materials and directly to visitors.
Ensey’s motion to re-organize and strengthen the historical society was approved.
Bob Harris of Florence proposed creating a board of directors with one representative from each museum and one or two at-large members.
The motion was approved. It directed each of eight museum boards to select a member to serve on the board.
Ensey also asked for ideas and suggestions that might be helpful to develop internship programs in conjunction with Emporia State University and Tabor College to promote and highlight the county’s historical attractions.
The next meeting was set for 5:30 p.m. April 17 at the Elgin Hotel in Marion.
The group continued to share ideas after the meeting adjourned.