The Lycoming County Historical Society held its 2021 annual meeting on April 25, 2021. Gary Weber, president of the Society called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was held in the community room at the Thomas T. Taber Museum. There were thirty-one persons present.
After welcoming the members to the meeting, President Weber began the business meeting with the election of officers. President Weber presented the following recommended slate of officers for the 2021-22 year: President - Gary Weber; Vice President - Seth Burch; Secretary - Susan Beidler; and Treasurer - Randall DiPalo. There were no nominations from the floor. The slate was elected unanimously
Gary Weber presented the following slate for election to the Board of Governors: Bruce Huffman (third term); John Piper (second term); Brad Hall (first term); Mary Holstein (first term), Marc Pompeo (first term), and Michelle Reidinger (first term). There were no nominations from the floor. The slate passed unanimously.
Executive Director Gary Parks gave his report and commented that 2020 was a rollercoaster year, but all in all, the museum fared okay. The staff worked from home during the mandated shutdown from March to May. LCHS received a Payroll Protection Program loan of about $34,000 and an EIDL loan of $6,000 through government pandemic programs. LCHS met the criteria and the loans were forgiven. A second PPP loan also helped.
Highlights of 2021 included: When the museum reopened in May, thanks to the generosity of Duane Van Fleet, and exhibit of vintage motorcycles was well received. A grant from the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau allowed the museum to produce a full-color catalog and calendar for the exhibit. The holidays brought an exhibit of quilts created by Wendy Etzel enhanced with silver and jade items from a private collection. Many of the quilts were donated to the museum at the close of the exhibit and are now part of the permanent collection.
Gary remarked on the amazing generosity of the people of Lycoming County. Bobby Maguire loaned the museum a Severin Roesen painting that will become a gift and the George Logue family donated a collection of 104 erector sets from 1914 to 2000 that he collected. The museum will keep 28 of them and the family has allowed LCHS to sell the remainder.
Gary expressed thanks to the dedicated staff and the wonderful volunteers. The museum is very blessed to have such a dedicated group. He specifically thanked Chuck Luppert, John Raymond, and Gary Weber. Additionally, he thanked Randy DiPalo, Sue Beidler, and Larry Fryda for their work on behalf of the museum.
Treasurer Randy DiPalo reported that the 2020/21 year was a much better financial year than would have been expected. He noted that the budget is an expense-driven budget and the challenge each year is how much of the museum’s savings we will have to use. It was presumed that approximately $170,000 would be needed, but only about $35,000 was used. Some of the unanticipated savings were due to the director of development position being filled for only part of the year and the pandemic-related forgivable loans.
He reviewed the proposed 2021/2022 budget, which basically mirrors last year’s budget. The increase includes small increases in salaries and wages, health insurance and technology upgrades. The budget, as presented, looks to use $145,000 from savings, however several recent developments that occurred after the budget was prepared reduce that need. The second PPP loan will cover about $35,000 and there was a $20,000 allocation from the county. In the past that allocation was $10,000. The budget as proposed was passed.
John Raymond noted that LCHS is lucky to have Randy DiPalo as its treasurer and thanked him for the work he does. Randy responded that he was only able to do so because of Kim Taylor’s work as the LCHS administrative assistant. He noted that his firm works with many non-profits that do not have the level of competent staff that LCHS does.
John Piper added comments that twenty years ago in the capital campaign, the LCHS board chose to take out a mortgage for the construction and renovation project and invest the significant gift given by Tom Taber. Those funds were invested under the care of Brad Hall and the mortgage paid off budget from those funds. When the mortgage was paid off this year, there was approximately $90,000 remaining. Thanks were expressed to Brad Hall for his stewardship.
The president reported that he has enjoyed serving as president and that the job was made easier by the staff and board.
Positives from the year included:
- Even though the Bottles & Brews and CasinoEvil fundraisers were cancelled, YesterShoppe and the holiday ornament sale were successful.
- There have been excellent Society Program and Coffee hour presentations
- A series of children’s workshops, funded through a grant from the Free & Accepted Masons were well received
- The vintage motorcycle exhibit last summer was outside of the usual subjects, but was wildly successful
- Membership is up
- Committees are very active, with both board members and volunteers
- LCHS, specifically Gary Parks, has a good relationship with the local press and the museum gets good coverage.
Finances are still a concern but that is why the board took the step of hiring a director of development this past year.
Recently hired Director of Development, Eric Ziegler, then spoke and thanked the LCHS for the opportunity to be part of the staff. He has roots in the community and felt the position was a perfect match. Given his experience with all types of organizations, he noted that LCHS is an organization that has its act together. His job is to develop processes to cultivate donors and do what existing staff didn’t have the time to do. He will address individual giving, improve relationships with the business and corporate communities, look for grant funding and develop planned giving opportunities.
Gary Weber recognized and thanked the following persons who completed their board service:
- Chuck Luppert – served on the board for twelve years, including three terms as president. Additionally, he was “Mr. Fix-it” and reliably took care of many repairs in the building.
- Chuck Anderson – served on the board for six years and was very active in fundraising events; he used his expertise as an electrician in the grant received to replace the lighting throughout the museum; and he, his family and friends sell more tickets to events than anyone.
- James Campbell – served on the board for two years and was the key contact for the summer motorcycle exhibit
Gary Parks announced that Isabella Taylor, a student at Montoursville High School, was selected by a jury of educators to receive the Richard L. and Miriam L. (Swan) Mix Student Historian Award. She was in attendance with her parents to receive the award. Isabella was invited to say a few words. She noted that she was told about the contest by Mr. Long, her teacher. After exploring the museum, she was particularly interested in the communication exhibit, and wrote about the development of means of communication from the switchboard on display, to today’s smartphones. Her essay is posted on the museum’s website and will be published in the Newsletter. She plans to attend Lycoming College and major in psychology in the fall..
Gary Parks introduced Marc Pompeo as the Volunteer of the year. He said that Marc is the quintessential volunteer who served on the education, collections, facilities, and fundraising committees, including chair of the latter committee. He has written several articles for the annual Journal. Marc noted that he previously served on the board for eleven years and has enjoyed working with the board and the dedicated staff. LCHS serves an important role in the community and he is glad to be part of it.
Gary Weber presented the President’s Lifetime Service award to John B. “Huzzah!” Raymond for his extraordinary level of service to the Society. This special award as one that is rarely given. He told the audience that John was first elected to the board in 2006 and served numerous terms as an officer, including as president from 2013-2015. He was the #1 cheerleader for all things FUNdraising. John took particular joy in inventing creative names for events and programs. With all of the events, John was present, directing, and leading in everything. Gary Weber then read the resolution extolling Raymond’s accomplishments and presented him the framed copy.
John spoke about the importance of history and illustrated his points with examples he used in thirty years of teaching history to 8th graders. He says history is, “the past in the process of creating the future.” At LCHS our job is history and education and the Society is fortunate to have top-notch professionals running the museum. History is people, places and things, and to maintain that funding is important. He exhorted the audience to remember that and express to the younger generation the importance of the past.
The annual meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.