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Published: 4/30/2008

Council OKs $30K emergency advance for Maumee Valley Historical Society

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Maumee Valley Historical Society will get an infusion of funds from the city of Maumee to clear up a cash crunch caused by miscommunication between the two parties three years ago.

City Council voted to advance the historical society an emergency $30,000 at last week's meeting. The next day, council's finance committee agreed to recommend paying the full $75,000 the society requested for each year for 2008, 2009, and 2010.

The society runs the Wolcott House Museum complex, 1035 River Rd., which is owned and supported by the city.

Jack Hiles, its executive director, said the city funding was needed to keep the museum grounds and old buildings in good shape. Last year, the society received $67,500 from Maumee.

The cash crunch resulted from poor communication between the society and city in 2005, Mr. Hiles said.

He said he understood the funding schedule agreed to then would be for 2006, 2007, and 2008. City officials, however, understood it to cover 2005, 2006, and 2007.

"We found out we weren't in the budget for this year," he explained. "We've gone up to this point with no funding from the city in 2008."

At the council meeting, approval of the $30,000 advance encountered resistance from councilmen Brent Buehrer and Todd Zimmerman, who wanted a recommendation from the finance committee first.

However, Councilman Richard Carr moved to authorize the contribution, and the motion carried 5-2.

The finance committee, chaired by Mr. Zimmerman, met the following day and quizzed historical society officials about finances.

Mr. Zimmerman wondered if an endowment could be established to raise funds for the long-term support of the Wolcott House. He said the city might not always be in a position to continue its financial support.

Museum Curator Marilyn Wendler said it was very unusual for a historical society to have an endowment, although some buildings were endowed.

Mr. Hiles said historical society officials felt neglected by council.

"We kind of get the feeling that we are of no interest to you guys up on council. It would seem to me that once in a while you could come down and see what's going on," he said.

Council member Jenny Barlos asked if the historical society's board could attract younger members.

Historical Society President Barbara Dennis responded: "Younger people don't care about history."

Mrs. Wendler added: "A majority of our volunteers are retired teachers."

Mayor Tim Wagener described the Wolcott House as "a quality-of-life issue, like the pool and parks and summer recreation program."

In other action, council:

•Approved the appointment by Mayor Wagener of Catherine Oatis, Janet Russ-Jones, and Jane Williams to the Maumee Indoor Theater Advisory Board, and Councilman Doug Brainard as the ex-officio member.

•Authorized an agreement with the Ohio Turnpike Commission for ambulance services.

•Approved a $2,650 contract with Total Environmental Services for asbestos removal at the former fire station at 202 East William St.

•Approved a $20,600 contract with Arcadis for a study of water system update needs.

•Approved a $63,000 contract with Mannik and Smith Group Inc. for a soil contamination remediation plan at 214 Illinois Ave.

•Approved a $24,750 contract with Tetra Tech for design and cost estimates for storm sewer needs.

•Approved a $2 million contract with Underground Utilities of Monroeville, Ohio, for the next phase of storm sewer improvements.

•Approved a request from St. Joseph Catholic Church to hold a family fair May 17.

•Approved a $29,200 contract with Right Stuff Software Corp. for the police division.



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