I think it worthwhile to keep the public up-to-date on our activities, so from now on, I will write a “State of the Society” twice during the year. The first will come after our first meeting of the year, and the second will be after our sixth. Due to hazardous weather, last Saturday, March 10, was our first meeting of 2018.
The primary business was the election of officers for the next year, and they were elected as follows: Chris Rizer, president; AJ Howard, vice-president; Catherine Hamm, secretary; Sheila Roush, treasurer; Tad Greathouse, director; Angelique Juelfs-Johnson, director; and Kyle McCausland, director. The skills of my fellow directors are wide-ranging, and I look forward to the next year of working with them.
First, let me say that I was very happy to see some new faces at this meeting! I’m glad that word is still spreading. However, I realize that we still have work to do. Our toughest task, one that we look forward to accomplishing, is proving that we will represent the history of the entire county, not just Point Pleasant or the Bend Area. To this end, some great ideas were proposed at the last meeting that could allow us to reach out to the rest of the county. One in particular will begin very soon.
As many of you know, our Society began as an organization for overseeing our cemetery cleanups across the county. To date, we’ve cleaned three cemeteries and two of those are being actively maintained. Bumgarner Cemetery is being maintained by the family, and the Lewis Cemetery is being maintained by the landowner. There’s still some work to be done at both, mainly the restoration of headstones, but the worst of the work is finished. I’ll return to them as I get the materials to finish the headstones. This summer, we plan to accomplish more than we have in the last three years combined.
Kyle and Angelique proposed at our recent meeting that we expand our cemetery work, and rather than finish one per summer, we finish one per month. Based on last summer’s work at Bumgarner Cemetery and this past winter’s work at the Lewis Cemetery, both of which were finished in less than five working days, this goal isn’t unobtainable. With that in mind, we decided that we would move forward with this plan, that we would finish one cemetery per month for a total of four, and that each will be in a different region of the county. These projects will be primarily led by Angelique and AJ. I’ll be bouncing in and out as needed, but I’ll be working on another project. I’m currently compiling a list of potential cemeteries, and would welcome any input. For consideration, the cemetery must be relatively small (100 burials at most) and there must be someone willing to maintain the cemetery after we finish. If you have any suggestions, please email us at email@example.com.
At the same time as the cemetery projects are happening, I’ll be working on a second project. We’re losing historic buildings at an alarming rate, and with them goes a treasure trove of information. I plan on working with owners of these buildings, some of which simply can’t be saved, to document them before they’re gone forever. This will involve deed research, examining the buildings in person, taking detailed measurements, and compiling the information into a report known as the Historic American Buildings Survey. I’m also currently compiling a potential list for this project, but for the sake of the owners’ privacy, it will stay private.
Finally, we also discussed the future location of the historical society. Several of our previous options sold in the recent past, and several more options were put on the table. This discussion will continue until we find a property that our Board believes we can easily fund, begin using in a relatively quick time frame, and use to accomplish our mission. The main holdup in this process is our pending non-profit paperwork. In the meantime, we will continue discussing our options so that we can begin moving as soon as the paperwork returns.
This summer is shaping up to very busy, and I hope that you’ll join us at our future meetings as well as at our projects!!
The next meeting of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society will be in May. The date, time, and location will be announced next week.
Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society.