County Museums Board elected new chairman, to pursue restructuring with one manager

Newly elected Fremont County Museum Board Chair Steve Banks presenting pro and cons of Fremont County Museum personnel re-structuring options during work session. (June Bonasera photo) 

(Dubois, Wyo.) – A work session and meeting of the Fremont County Museums Board was held in Dubois last week which included a determination of direction for a proposed restructuring of governance for the Museum system and election of new Board officers.

In the morning work session, Board Chairman Tom Duncan announced that he would not accept a nomination for another year as Chair or any other elected position on the Museum Board.  Duncan has served a total of 7.5 years to date. He stated that he would not seek re-appointment by the commissioners at the conclusion of his term in June 2014.

Museums Board member, Steve Banks presented three restructuring options to the board in the work session. He identified different options for leadership and re-structuring of the County Museum system, including a Museum District option; governed by a board of publically elected officials, a Business Management option; which would maintain the organization as is but with the hiring of one administrative employee including IT and facilities management issues and thirdly, a County Museum Manager option; which would include the hiring of one new employee to oversee the individual museum directors.

Concerns and reservations were expressed regarding loss of individuality for each of the museums if the Museum system hired a County Museum Manager. In addition, whether the background of person to fill the role should have an administrative or museum management background was expressed by Banks and Duncan. Support for the County Museum Manager option was voiced by both Board member Carol Chidsey and the County Commissioners’ liaison to the Board, Stephanie Kessler.

At the conclusion of Banks’ presentation, Stephanie Kessler distributed the results of a poll taken by the County Commissioners regarding the issue as direction for the board to pursue. The poll asked the following 3 questions of the County Commissioners with the results as listed:

Q:   What is your preferred management structure for the Museum System? Choices included:

A. Keep it the way it is. (Board oversees 3 different museum directors and one administrative assistant).

B. Create an overall Museum System Director. (The 3 museum site directors report to that person and administrative assistant reports to that person).

C. Create a ‘Business Manager’ position that will take over administrative duties. (This person will be on equal standing to the 3 museum directors so that in addition to option ‘A’ above, the business manager sill also report to the director of the Museum Board).

Results: 5 votes for B.

Q: What should be the priority activities/programs of the Fremont County Museum System?

A. Inventory artifacts.

B. Educational Displays in the Museums.

C. Educational and public involvement opportunities within the respective communities-more than museum displays,

D. Public outreach and engagement with the public, including building partnerships and collaborations with various county stakeholders so as to assess and address diverse public need in the community (including heritage tourism enhancement).

E. Community fund raising events that help build community understanding and support for their museums.

F. All of the above.

Results: 5 votes for F

Can we extend the report back to the Commission deadline on the restructure idea to mid-August?

Results: All 5 voted yes

Upon reading the poll results and after discussion and comments by Ms. Kessler, the Board agreed to work towards presenting a preliminary proposal to the County Commissioners recommending a County Museum Manager. Banks stated he would “move forward to give the best proposal possible in this direction”. The Board agreed to comment on a preliminary outline via e-mail that Banks would send to all, then send a finalized preliminary proposal to the County Commissioners via e-mail on August 2nd, in advance of the County Commissioners’ meeting on August 6th.

Board elections were then discussed and the need to transition smoothly to a newly elected chairman from the existing chairman through a training period.

The Board meeting began at 1 p.m. where the election of officers took place. By unanimous vote, the following officers were elected: Steve Banks, Chairman, Jon Lane, Vice Chair, Erin Shirley, Secretary and Carol Chidsey, Treasurer.

In other business, the resignation of Riverton Museum director Loren Jost was accepted with regret, and appreciation for his service expressed by the Board. Jost’s last day will be July 31, 2013. It was agreed that the position would be advertised beginning August 9th pending the Board receiving approval by the County Commissioners to do so.

The Fremont County Museum Board met in Dubois on Thursday. (June Bonasera photo)
The Fremont County Museum Board met in Dubois on Thursday. (June Bonasera photo)