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Rankin County Historical Society Executive Board Meeting

June 3, 2011

Note: I have incorporated some of the facts and figures collected and furnished to us at the meeting as background for the issues facing the RCHS at this time. These items will be weighed as we continue our discussions on the plans we make for the next three to five years. The meeting was scheduled 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.; we adjourned at 3:00 P.M. A delicious lunch was served courtesy of the Airport Authority with special thanks going to Cindy Crockett, executive assistant to Dirk Vanderleest, for putting together the meeting and lunch. Joan Singletary, secretary.

Members of the Rankin County Historical Society Executive Board met Friday, June 3, 2011, in the Board Room at Jackson International Airport.

Present were: Anne Vanderleest, president; Paul Davis, vice-president; John Haliburton, treasurer; Joan Singletary, secretary; Nathan Bradshaw and Mary Lou Ayers, members-at-large; Mel Corley, immediate past president; and Dirk Vanderleest, facilitator.

The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss the vision, focus, mission and future of RCHS. When RCHS was founded in 1978 one of its primary objectives was to “preserve and publicize the county’s history”. Some four years later the Atkins-McRae Building was donated to the society and it was designated as a museum to house the society’s growing collection of artifacts. The Neely House, the smokehouse and Goshen Post Office were donated at a later date.

The ensuing years, along with Katrina, have taken their toll on the structures. In several ways the structures no longer meet current city codes for public buildings. The immediate need for both the store and house is replacing the roofing, along with any rotten decking and rafters that may be uncovered during the roofing process.

The Post Office building was originally constructed as a storage shed then converted for use as the Goshen Post Office.  Deterioration and damage done by Katrina would require completely redoing the interior of the structure; the sorting case is the only remaining equipment in the building.

The smokehouse needs both front and rear walls as well as corner boards replaced.

Initial estimates for these repairs range from $12,558 to $17,463.

Membership numbers for the society decrease each year and our calendar project lost money for the last two years forcing the decision to discontinue printing the historical calendars for at least two years. Faced with these facts, RCHS board members must make decisions concerning the future of the society.

General discussion among the board agreed that our vision for the society is to be recognized as the best historical society in the state.

“More” was pointed out as describing our mission which continues to be collecting, preserving, maintaining and sharing Rankin County history. Ideas for accomplishing this include digitalization of our current collection along with the setting up of an on-line museum. One idea discussed was taking Rankin County history to the public through meetings with civic clubs, churches, and community gatherings, rather than sitting on the top of the hill and waiting for visitors to come to us during the few times the museum is open.

After receiving estimates for repairs on the Museum buildings, Anne and Dirk talked with Tim Coulter, mayor of Brandon, as well as Walter Johnson, Supervisor of District 4 of Rankin County, to see if any financial help might be forthcoming from either the city or the county. The prospect was not dismissed by either.

The immediate fate of the smokehouse and the post office was discussed and a vote was taken with all agreeing they should be demolished with any materials that can be salvaged used for other repairs. This motion was made by Anne, seconded by Nathan, carried unanimously.

Discussion on the fate of the house ranged from selling it to generate income, keeping it (after making necessary repairs) or demolition. No decision made; this will continue to be discussed.

The store is in the best physical condition of all the structures; however, because the building is not climatized the materials displayed there are rapidly deteriorating. We all agreed that we need a great deal of discussion on the options facing us on this issue. Should we continue to use the store as a museum, should we close the doors – what other options may be available?

All agreed that a move toward digitalization is high priority.

Dirk pointed out we need to keep the SWOT method in mind as we deal with the issues facing RCHS as a viable organization: Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

The board meeting will be continued on Thursday, June 9, at 6:30 P.M. at the library.


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