There has been a bit of a push concerning our local Chehalis Valley Historical Museum here on the opinion page lately. Both by myself as well as a recent column by the Vidette editor. An outline of the importance that the facility has here in the community was highlighted, and perhaps more importantly, the dire financial straits that has beset the museum.
I thought it important enough to do a follow-up to inform the readers of this paper who have responded to the raised alarm.
We had our monthly board meeting recently. I can report to all of you here that have shown an interest that the museum raised approximately $1,500 in this very short time. Now, this may not seem like a great deal of money as you read this, however, it is enough to pay the insurance to keep the doors open and pay the light and heat bill. The collections of journals, maps, diaries and the history of this community will be safe from mold and danger — at least for the rest of this wet winter. Well done Vidette readers. Well done.
Envelopes streamed in. People stopped in — $10 donations, $20 donations, even $100 donations. Our Mayor Ken Estes came by with $50. I had a knock on my door at home and peered through the window. Recently elected Montesano City Councilman Marisa Salzar was standing on my porch. At first I thought I was over the allowed cat limit in the city and they were coming for me. As I opened the door, she handed me a check for the museum, just stopping by on her way home from work. Whew. I guess I haven’t hit that limit — yet.
And there were more.
Grays Harbor County Commissioner Wes Cormier was so taken by the history the museum holds and protects, as a result of his coming by and tour, that he wrote me just to let me know he is looking into ways the county may be able to help. Mayor Estes is working with the museum to see if there is anyway the city of Montesano can free up some of the hotel and motel tax funds that they collect. And there is more.
This crisis serves as a reminder that this town and community is much more than what has dominated the news lately. Drama, political infighting, and one financial crisis after another. When the chips are down, as was the recent case with the museum, the folks walked the talk.
For the time being, the museum is safe. It’s long-term health does need to be addressed though. On behalf of everyone down there, thank you.
The museum is a bright shiny jewell that we can all be proud of here in the community. It is our history and it is us. It only takes a few thousand dollars a year to keep the lights on and the collections warm enough to keep the mold off. Considering the money we spend around this place on things I don’t want to get into here today, I think we should be able to find a way to stop this endless cycle of one crisis after another and settle this thing down for good.
I will end this topic, at least for another year, by again mentioning that those of you looking to get involved in something here locally will find the museum a fun opportunity. We need docents on the weekends, people to sort through papers — and help lifting things here and there. Stop by the museum any Saturday or Sunday noon to four. Thank you, to all who took the time to donate what you could and to those who will be stopping by with more donations. It was and is, greatly needed. Thank you to The Vidette for allowing the issue the space and attention.
Tom Frederiksen grew up in Montesano and lives here today with an active blog at montesanotoday.com. He’s a member of the Board of the Chehalis Valley Historical Museum. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.