Coming soon: Decatur County Museum

Published 4:45 pm Friday, September 11, 2009

Sometime within the next few weeks, watch for a big-time announcement regarding reopening the Decatur County Museum in a very historic building in Bainbridge.

The Decatur County Historical Society for more than a year has been in discussions with the Decatur County School Board toward obtaining some space in one of the school buildings that are going to be declared surplus.

If this comes about, the historical society will be eternally indebted to School Superintendent Ralph Jones, School Board Chairman Dr. Sydney Cochran, and all current board member. We also will need some help from the community.

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Simply to begin, we need new members, lots of new members.

At last count, there were about 60 historical society members and dwindling.

We need new folks.

We need younger people especially to come aboard and get involved and help us with several things: one, finances; two, leadership; three, time to help with several new and ongoing projects.

We also will need docents and curators, folks who have a few hours a day or week, to donate their time to help run the museum.

Now, this isn’t needed today, but we need to work on these ideas during the next year, with the goal of reopening the museum about this time next year.

We’ll need an operating budget.

Most of those funds will come from membership dues, that is if we can get a substantial membership base, renewable each January. We need at least 200 to 250 participants or more, who would give $15 per year per individual or $25 per couple, as their membership fee. We also will need donors, patrons and benefactors involving local people and businesses. We also will need some state and federal grants to help in renovation costs, which could be considerable.

Several years ago, the museum was part of the Firehouse Gallery. When the building was remodeled, we had to move out to make way for the construction and remodeling crews. We thought this would be a good time to reconsider our role, look for larger quarters and expand the exhibit space with all that stuff that never came out of storage.

Speaking of storage, that’s where the museum is today, silently waiting to be rediscovered and brought out of moth balls.

If you would like to help, here are the current board members you can call to offer a membership or financial pledge: Carol Lewis, 246-4238; John Cunningham, 243-8369; Carolyn Barbree, 246-3335; Roger Campbell, 465-3899; Kay Clifton, 246-6815; Clayton Penhallegan, 246-8823; J.B. Swicord, 246-5753; Kathryn Lillethun, 246-0125; Larry Nichols, 246-0638; Jim Smith, 248-0955.

Letters will go out in December asking for your checks. In the meantime, the society meets five times a year for dinner and a historic themed program. Dinner is $15. Anyone may attend, member or not, all you need is a reservation.

This Monday night, local retired attorney Harold Lambert will discuss the merging of the two cities, Bainbridge and West Bainbridge, which occurred in the mid 1960s. For reservations, call me at 248-0955 or J.B. Swicord at 246-5753.