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February 22, 2017 - 2:23pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in history, Oakfield, Oakfield Museum.

The Oakfield Historical Museum will theme their 2017 exhibits in honor of the town's 175th anniversary. As you'll learn in this short clip, the museum showcases a large variety of history including the town's Native American heritage and mining roots.

Your visit is always welcome -- call 585-948-5901 for a personal tour! Oakfield Historical Society, 7 Maple Ave., Oakfield; 585-259-4145.

Visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

February 14, 2017 - 11:59am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in Le Roy, Jell-O, history, news.

There's no better way to celebrate National JELL-O Week than by visiting the JELL-O Gallery in Le Roy! “America’s Most Famous Dessert” was invented in Le Roy in 1897. Visit the Museum dedicated to all things JELL-O, and pick up unique JELL-O-themed souvenirs in their gift shop. 

The gallery is open Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours beginning in the Spring.

JELL-O Gallery, 23 E. Main St., Le Roy, NY; 585-768-7433.

Visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

February 13, 2017 - 10:03am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in history, Le Roy, Historic Le Roy House, news, tourism.

Tour this mansion-turned-museum for over 100 years of unique history! The Historic Le Roy house was built in 1822 by Jacob LeRoy and later owned by the chancellor of Ingham University, which was the first female university in the United States to grant a four-year degree.

Learn more in this week's historical society feature and be sure to pay a visit! The museum is open Monday -- Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours beginning in the Spring.

Historic Le Roy House, 23 E. Main St., Le Roy, NY; 585-768-7433.

Visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

February 11, 2017 - 5:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, batavia, history, Ryan Duffy, news.

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Ryan Duffy decided in high school that he wanted to work in a history museum.

Now, he's running one.

Duffy is the new director of the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia and yesterday the museum held a reception to welcome him to his new job.

He started Jan. 17 and said he's already fascinated by what he's finding in the museum.

"I go upstairs every day to work on some things and I find something new that I find I’m amazed that it’s here, that you would expect to be some place much bigger than here," he said.

One reason Duffy is going through the collection is he's trying to plan future exhibits, which he said may focus on local history, or he may explore cooperative efforts with other museums for exhibits with ties to Genesee County, but not specifically Genesee County. He's currently working on a possible World War I exhibit and he's found some items he was surprised might be part of the local collection, such as a war department document. He said he's also impressed with the range of military uniforms the museum owns, representing all branches of service spanning the history of the country.

To help get more people to visit the museum, he's exploring the idea of trivia nights and more family-oriented events.

Duffy, originally from Eden, received his BA in history from St. Bonaventure University. He received a master's dpegree in history from Bowling Green University and a Master's Certificate in Museum Studies from SUNY Buffalo State College.

"I’ve become more and more interested in local history as I’ve gone along, so I thought, ‘I’m still in Western New York -- it’s still my history in that regard,’ " Duffy said, explaining why he applied for the job when he heard HLOM was looking for a new director. "I still feel a connection to it and I get to do what I actually want to do.”

February 8, 2017 - 1:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in art, history, news.

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I've been in the county's history department a few times but never noticed this sculpture before.

It's by Giovanni-Battista Lombardi, an Italian sculptor who lived from 1823 to 1880.

The bust was originally the property of the Dean Richmond family, and the last family to live in the Richmond Mansion, Watts Richmond, sold it to C.C. Bradley Sr., who donated it the history department in 1978.

It's striking because the veil looks so natural from a slight distance, but step closer and you see it's also marble.

The technique was popularized by sculptor Rafaelle Monti (1818-1881).

Based on a Google search, Lombardi seems to have made several copies of this bust. This one is dated 1866. The Metropolitan Museum of Art lists one in its collection from 1869. Earlier versions seem to exist as well.

February 8, 2017 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, news.

holmestransit2017.jpg

The Genesee County History Department has received an interesting donation. It is a surveyor's transit that once belonged to Joseph W. Holmes.

Holmes was born in 1831 in Alabama and would eventually become the village engineer for Batavia. He became a preeminent engineer in Western New York, according to Michael Eula, director of the History Department. He was also an inventor, manufacturer and served one term representing Genesee County in the NYS Assembly.

He died in 1919.

The transit probably passed to his son, Glenn D. Holmes, also born in Alabama, in 1873, and a graduate of Batavia High School and Cornell University. He eventually became city engineer for Syracuse.

A resident of Hamilton discovered the transit along with some books that belonged to Glenn D. Holmes in his residence and made the donation to Genesee County. The transit is inscribed with the name of Joseph Holmes and "Batavia, NY."

It bears a striking resemblance to a transit Holmes used in a patent filing in 1883 for modifications and improvements to a transit for the purpose of better acquiring an accurate solar time. In an article on the evolution of the transit, Holmes is cited as one of several inventors who made modifications to the device during that era.

“This instrument is a wonderful example of the place that engineers held both in Western New York and indeed in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries," Eula said. "Engineers were really at the forefront of economic modernization that was taking place around the country."

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In the collection of material donated was a sales receipt from Joseph W. Holmes.

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January 31, 2017 - 10:24am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in Alexander Museum, alexander, history, news.

Enjoy a peek inside the Alexander Museum located in the only three-story cobblestone town hall in America. The museum's large open space is filled with a wide-ranging collection - from farmers' tools to old record players, there's a lot to explore here.

To visit, contact Historian Katie Goodman at 585-591-1204 or by email to schedule a tour.

Alexander Museum, 3350 Church St., Alexander, NY; 585-591-1204.

Visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

January 24, 2017 - 12:17pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in byron, Byron Museum, history, news.

A unique feature of the Byron Museum is that it is located in an historic church -- the sanctuary of the former German Lutheran church is packed with countless items, including clothing, textiles, photographs and yearbooks. Behind the church, there is a large annex dedicated to farming equipment and items. To tour this museum, call town historian, Bob Wilson at 585-548-9008.

Visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

January 18, 2017 - 2:08pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in history, Alabama Museum, Alabama, news.

The Chamber's tourism staff recently visited each of our Genesee County history museums, so that we could better share with visitors our unique history. Most of our towns and villages have preserved vast collections of local history that are waiting for you to explore. Many of the historical societies are run by volunteers, so you'll just need to call ahead to schedule a most welcomed visit.

In this video, you'll learn about the Alabama Museum in Alabama, NY. Contact Alabama Historian Joseph Cassidy at 585-813-2812 to schedule a tour.

Check back each week to learn about another local museum!

The Alabama Museum itself is a neat place as it was originally an one-room schoolhouse. When you walk into the museum, you can see the big windows and high ceilings and wonder about the children and the education that went on in the building. Through the artifacts you will discover that Alabama used to have three gun manufacturers in its small town. There was a prominent citizen named Dr. Grant Neal, whose buggy is displayed at the museum.

Part of the original Basom post office is also on display.

Some people might find the museum's vintage posters of "horse auctions" and old-time carnivals as interesting historical markers and how life was way back then. One small item that is still relevant today is a Christmas party invitation harking back to 1856 in regards to some soiree in Alabama.

Alabama Museum, 2218 Judge Road, Alabama, NY; 585-813-2812.

Visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more...

November 29, 2016 - 6:12am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in genesee county, history, news, tourism, hlom.

If you have a history lover or a curiosity seeker on your holiday shopping list, the gift shop area of the Holland Land Office Museum (131 W. Main St., Batavia) is going to be your best friend this holiday season.

Genesee County is blessed with rich American history. The county’s location and people have made significant contributions to the history of our country. The Holland Land Office Museum has a great gift shop that features many local history books and local history items for sale. It’s refreshing to see such a nice array of offerings.

You can visit the gift shop area Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take a look at some of our favorite items:

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Visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more...
November 15, 2016 - 9:00am
posted by Session Placeholder in history.
Event Date and Time: 
November 13, 2016 -
1:00pm to 3:00pm

Exhibits on U.S. Gypsum Company, company housing, Native American history, and Oakfield’s war time contributions.

October 15, 2016 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Oakfield, news.

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Bill Chase, a tour guide today, stands on "the big rock" near the site of what was once one of the largest Native American settlements in the region, on property now owned by Lamb Farms in the Town of Oakfield. The rock may have served as a grinding stone for the Indians, but there is little evidence to support that supposition. At one time, Town of Oakfield considered moving the stone into Triangle Park.

The visit to the big rock was part of four tours today of 30 people each to the site known to later generations of Seneca as Tegat Ainea Aghgue, or town with two forts.  It's the first time the Oakfield Historical Society organized a tour of the site and it proved to be hugely popular. All four tours were sold out and another 30 or 40 people wanted to go on the tour.

The location of the other fort has never been confirmed, but the Oakfield fort was occupied for about 100 years during the 12th and 13th centuries.

The fort was located on the banks of a creek in an area that may have been cleared of trees by fire. Evidence suggests that the Indians waited for new saplings to grow big enough and tall enough to serve as a fence for the fort. They also dug a ditch around the five acres of the fort.

Reverend Samuel Kirkland first visited the site in 1788 and found large trees growing in the area, but the mound and ditch were clearly visible. 

Sixty years later, E.G. Squire mapped the fort, even though part had been cleared by that time for farmland. 

The woods were filled with trees of enormous size and age, he reported. 

Kirkland may have found the second fort, but it has never been located since.

In 1958, a team from University at Buffalo, led by professor Marion White, assisted by amateur archeologist Stanley Vanderlaan, dug a portion of the site and discovered the remains of three longhouses. 

Many residents have known about the area their whole lives and one person on the tour said for a long time it was still possible to find arrowheads in the farm field right after the spring plowing.

The land is privately owned, but that doesn't stop motorcyclists and ATV riders from using the trails in the area. 

The guide reminded everybody they should not visit the site without permission. There may come a day in the future when archeologists want to return, perhaps with better and more sophisticated equipment to help uncover more about the lives of these early settlers. 

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The embankment to the right is part of the ditch that surrounded the fort.

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This white oak -- the white oak is what gives Oakfield its name -- is possibly the largest and oldest still standing in Oakfield. It's more than 300 years old. Each member of the tour was offered an acorn from a white oak to take home and try and grow. 

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October 4, 2016 - 12:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in history, GCC, news, civil war, Announcements.

Press release:

The History Club at Genesee Community College is planning an educational spring break trip to Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding area in March. In an effort to support the experiential learning opportunity and raise the necessary funds, the club is hosting a special event at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building at the GCC Batavia campus.

"Four Days After Appomattox" with General Robert E. Lee will take the audience back in time to the end of the Civil War just days after Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. General Lee recounts the war and imagines a future for himself and his countrymen.

"Tom Schobert's impression of Robert E. Lee is the very best historical impression I have ever witnessed," said Derek Maxfield, GCC associate professor of History and History Club advisor. "I have seen the 'Four Days' presentation several times and am always profoundly moved by it. He really captures Lee's character and manner and gives a spellbinding presentation."

The very moving program features Thomas Schobert, a Robert E. Lee impressionist of many years' experience. Schobert began his impression on the eve of the Civil War Sesquicentennial in 2011. Prior to donning the famous gray uniform, Schobert had been a longtime Union re-enactor doing a medical impression. Schobert brought to his impression many years of military experience in the Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

"It seems so appropriate to host the Lee presentation when the History Club has determined to go to the Richmond, Virginia area on spring break," Maxfield added. "I am excited by the prospect of taking the Club to Richmond and Washington, D.C. There are so many great historical sites we could visit! The problem will be the selection process given the limited amount of time, and raising the necessary funds."

Tickets for the event are $15 each or two for $25 and will be available at the door; cash and checks only. To reserve tickets, contact Derek Maxfield at [email protected] or by calling (585) 343-0055, ext. 6288. Ticket-holders will have an opportunity to have their picture taken with General Lee at no additional charge after the presentation.

October 3, 2016 - 4:18pm

Press release:

Join us for some spooky fun on Saturday, Oct. 22nd, when the Batavia Cemetery Association will host a candlelight guided ghost walk through the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue in Batavia.

The tours will feature the famous and infamous movers and shakers who shaped and influenced the City of Batavia.

The guided tour will bring guests to meet men and women of Batavia, who, for various reasons, held great power and exerted great influence in their day, were victims of tragic events, or both: Philemon Tracy, one of the few Confederate officers buried in the north; Ruth, the unknown victim of a horrendous murder; Joseph Ellicott, a man of great power and great flaws; and William Morgan, the man who disappeared and was allegedly murdered before he could reveal the secrets of the Masons. These are some of the ghosts who will tell their stories on the tour.

Also visiting will be: Thomas Hunt, a Union soldier who was wounded at Gettysburg during Pickett’s Charge; Rev. John H. Yates, poet, preacher, philanthropist, journalist and author of nationally known hymns; and Civil War veteran General John H. Martindale, who was Military Governor of the District of Columbia in 1865.

Dean and Mary Richmond, who greatly influenced civic life in Batavia in the 1800s, will meet with guests in their mausoleum on the last stop of the tour. Mr. Richmond made a great fortune in Great Lakes shipping and was the second president of the New York Central Railroad. Mrs. Richmond vastly expanded her husband’s fortune after his death and sat on the boards of many businesses and civic organizations.

Tours begin at 7 p.m. and run every 15 minutes until 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes refreshments. 

Tickets are available at the gate the day of the event at Historic Batavia Cemetery, Harvester Avenue, Batavia. Reservations are suggested. Proceeds benefit the upkeep and restoration of the cemetery.

For more information, or to make reservations, contact 343-0248.

August 2, 2016 - 4:41pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in genesee, genesee county, history, Historical Society.

Relevant history of American life is abound in Genesee County, NY. The county is home to 12 historical museums, which are excellent ways to understand how people in these towns lived many years ago.

You don’t have to travel to The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to have an experience with American history. We recently visited all of the Genesee County historical locations with the hope of shedding a little light on the history and relevance of each town. See history come alive by visiting these places!
 

Alabama Museum, 2218 Judge Road, Alabama, NY (585) 948-9287

The museum itself is a neat place as it was originally an one-room schoolhouse. When you walk into the museum, you can see the big windows and high ceilings and wonder about the children and the education that went on in the building. Through the artifacts you will discover that Alabama used to have three gun manufacturers in its small town. There was a prominent citizen named Dr. Grant Neal, whose buggy is displayed at the museum. Part of the original Bason post office is also on display. Some people might find the museum’s vintage posters of “horse auctions” and old-time carnivals as interesting historical markers and how life was way back then. One small item that is still relevant today is a Christmas party invitation harking back to 1856 in regards to some soiree in Alabama. Gladly open by appointment only. Feel free to call (585) 948-9287.

Alabama Museum 22

(Alabama Museum was once a one-room schoolhouse.)

Alabama Museum 18

(Artifacts from days gone by.)

Alabama Museum 6

(Dr. Grant Neal’s buggy is on display at the Alabama Museum.)

Alexander Museum, 3350 Church St., Alexander, NY (585) 591-1204

Up on the third story of Alexander’s Town Hall (United States’ only three-story cobblestone town hall) sits the Alexander Museum. The building alone is worth the trip and makes for interesting photographs – bring your camera. A few items on display that are relevant in today’s world, include an old phone, record players and typewriter – which are all now part of our cell phones. Children these days would be baffled in the ways we use to communicate. In a section dedicated to tools, it’s interesting to look at the objects and try to guess their usage. The museum’s large open space is filled with their wide-ranging collection. From farmer’s tools to old record players, there’s a lot to absorb here. Please call to schedule a visit.

Alexander 1

(Alexander Museum is located in Alexander’s unique town hall.)

Alexander 2

(Alexander Museum is open by appointment only.)

Alexander 4

(Remembering those who served from Alexander.)

Bergen Museum,  7547 S. Lake Road, Bergen, NY (585) 494-0080

The Bergen Museum is a truly unique place. The museum resides in the former 1880 Hartford Hotels Livery Stables in downtown Bergen. It has been converted into a cozy, and well-done museum. Inside the old barn, there are a handful of interesting, life-size tableaus depicting, a blacksmith shop, a general store, school classroom and more. The goal of the exhibits are to have the artifacts tell the story. You really get an excellent sense of what it was like to shop at a store, studying in school or visit the local pharmacy. A local military exhibit includes war time posters, which capture people’s imaginations. The nicely crafted tableaux were created by museum’s volunteers.  Open every Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

Bergen Museum 13

(The Bergen Museum is inside a converted horse stable.)

Bergen Museum 9

(Display of a blacksmith shop at Bergen Museum.)

Bergen Museum 8

(See what a General Store looked like at Bergen Museum.)

Byron Museum, 6407 Townline Road, Byron, NY  Phone: (585) 548-9008

A cool surprise is that this museum is located in an old church that is right next to an old cemetery. The sanctuary of the former German Lutheran church is packed with countless items, including a lot of clothing and textiles. People who love fashion or clothes will enjoy looking at what people were wearing a hundred years ago. South Byron High School is well-represented with photographs and yearbooks. Behind the church, there is a large annex dedicated to items typical of a farming community. There are even a few local business and community signs spread throughout. The collection is pretty deep. Open Sundays 2 to 4 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day. Other hours are gladly accepted with appointment.

Byron Museum 15

(Byron Museum is located inside a former church.)

Byron Museum 2

(The sanctuary of the church is filled with historical items.)

Byron Museum 9

(At the Byron Museum, there is a large area dedicated to antique tools and equipment.)

(More after the jump. Click on Read More below.)

July 28, 2016 - 5:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in James Pontillo, South Swan Street, batavia, history, news.

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James Pontillo is doing some restoration work on one of properties, in this case, on Swan Street, and he dug up this slab of stamped concrete inscribed for J. McBride.

Pontillo thinks this was a marker for John McBride, a contractor or engineer in the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and that the house on South Swan was once his residence.

The house was built in the 1880s or 1890s, Pontillo thinks.

There was a John McBride from Batavia born in 1862 who died in 1937. Online records indicate, though not conclusively, his sons were John McBride, born in 1892, and a Robert McBride, born in 1882. This McBride family does not appear to be related to the family that ran McBride Steel Plate Construction Company in Batavia for many decades, and whose patriarch was an immigrant from Ireland.

Pontillo also uncovered the remains of a granite hitching post.

He isn't quite sure what to do with this piece.He isn't sure if one of the historical agencies would be interested in it.

June 28, 2016 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city historian, history, news.

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City Historian Larry Barnes received his Volunteer of the Year award from the Batavia City Council at the start of Monday night's meeting at City Hall.

Barnes was named Volunteer of the Year earlier but was unavailable to receive the award.

The honor recognizes his many years of volunteer work as city historian, especially his efforts in support of the city's centennial celebration. 

Barnes said the award was really a shared award and recognized the many people and organizations who have helped him throughout his tenure as historian.

June 21, 2016 - 4:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, history, Announcements.

The Oakfield Historical Society’s Museum and Research Center is open each Sunday from 6/12 through 12/2, EXCEPT the dates 6/19 and 7/3 and 9/4 for holiday weekends.

The Museum is located at 7 Maple Ave., Oakfield, and this year’s exhibits include the U.S. Gypsum Company, the Company houses, Native American artifacts, early Oakfield artifacts, and the War Room – a tribute to those from Oakfield who served in the armed forces.

Our publications will be available for purchase during those hours.

Please see http://www.oakfieldhistory.org/ for more information.

June 9, 2016 - 12:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in hlom, news, history, batavia.

(File photos of last year's Penny Carnival held during the Holland Land Office Museum's History Summer Heroes program.)

Press release:

The theme for the 2016 History Heroes Summer Program is "Carnival Days" at the Holland Land Office Museum. This year the children will work together to create a Penny Carnival.

Each day of the summer program is packed with exciting and educational activities, field trips, games, crafts,and more!

The program ends with the carnival and a multimedia musical production showcasing our local history with the children taking on the persona of a famous Batavian.

The program begins on Tuesday, July 19th and runs for eight week days (Tues.-Fri.), ending on Friday, July 29th.  Time is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A snack is provided each day, but children must bring their own lunches.

The cost is $25 per day for non-members and $20 a day for museum members. The program is open to children ages 7-12.

Please call the museum at 343-4727 for more information and to save a place for your child.

June 3, 2016 - 5:44pm

A grant to pay for a historic marker for the boyhood home of Civil War-era Major General Emory Upton was approved, and the news was relayed to the Human Service Committee when it met Tuesday at County Building #2.

The Syracuse-based William G. Pomeroy Foundation agreed to provide $1,000 for a standard historical marker, mounting pole and shipping costs. Since 2006, the foundation's Historic Roadside Marker Grant Program has funded more than 282 markers in 46 New York counties.

The home at 9244 Upton Road in the Town of Batavia was built in 1823 by Emory's parents, Daniel and Electa Upton. The date has not been set, but there will be an unveiling ceremony/dedication after the marker is installed, attended by veterans groups, according to County Historian Michael Eula.

He has overseen the installation of three other markers during his tenure; there is a total of 19 in the county so far, one of which is in storage (for Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany).

The historian went on to outline what's happening in his department.

"I'm excited and optimistic about this department," he told the committee.

An average of eight visitors a month spend time in the History Department. Requests for information are up 2 percent; the only resulting uptick in revenue comes from copying fees. 

But the reputation of the Genesee County History Department is widening, Eula said, garnering attention outside the region, even outside the state.

The one area of concern that keeps the historian up at night, in fact that gives him nightmares, is the very real prospect of running out of shelf space for documents and records.

"Worst-case scenario is three years of shelving left," Eula said, "best case, four maybe five years."

He is tasked with storing documents from the Probation Department, the District Attorney's Office, the Public Defender's Office, and more.

But he has no idea in any given year how many documents will need to be archived.

It is only with the aid of a part-time microfilm clerk that he is "able to stay afloat."

"The more backup we have, the better I sleep at night," Eula said.

To that end, he applied for a grant last year to pay for more clerk hours to transfer documents onto microfilm. It was declined.

"I have to resubmit it," Eula said. "There is a learning curve on my part."

The specialized language of grant writing for record management is something he's still finessing, he admitted, noting that it is more challenging -- nuanced differently -- than that required for purely historical matters.

If he succeeds in getting grant money for more clerking assistance, he said he would like to retain the person now doing the job and already familiar with the department. Besides, he worries about confidentiality.

"Bringing in an outsider, a third party, raises confidentiality issues," Eula said.

After the meeting, Eula gave the Human Service Committee a tour of the History Department and County Building #2. With fans blowing and walls stripped of baseboards in many places, there was residual evidence of the flooding with occurred on a bitterly cold winter night when a frozen pipe burst and water damaged the building. It would have been much worse, but an employee happened to stop by over the weekend and caught the flooding early. 

A contractor is working to paint and retile and make other repairs and the county's insurer is paying for it.

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