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Fort Meigs director to leave after 9 years

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Fort Meigs executive director Rick Finch is stepping down in April to return to Iowa. For nine years, he has shared unique aspects of the War of 1812 with visitors to the fort in Perrysburg.

THE BLADE/MATT THOMPSON
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Rick Finch walked through the Fort Meigs indoor museum recently, sharing unique aspects of the War of 1812, including why and how the war was fought, and explaining the restored fort’s role in preserving its history.

After nine years of walking through that museum, teaching visitors about war details, Mr. Finch will step down as the fort’s executive director early next month to move back to Iowa.

“On Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be thinking about [which re-enactors] I’ll be missing from places like Canada and California,” Mr. Finch said. “Not to see those faces, catch up with those people, it will be hard for me.”

Bob Harold, a Fort Meigs Association board member, said there are three keys that made Mr. Finch great at what he does: knowing the fort’s historical perspective and actually dressing with volunteer re-enactors; being business and management savvy, and being good with community outreach and fund-raising.

“He was a great, great help to the fort and we are going to miss him,” Mr. Harold said. “We wouldn’t be looking for someone to replace him if he didn’t have to move with his family — which you can’t knock him for.”

Mr. Finch has been asked to help select his successor from among 60 applicants from eight states. That field has been narrowed to several finalists who Mr. Finch said would all be great at the job.

The association expects to announce Fort Meigs’ new executive director later this month.

The Fort Meigs Association operates on a budget of about $350,000 a year, with 35 percent coming from the Ohio Historical Society, 45 percent coming from the fort’s revenue, and 20 percent from fund-raising.

Mr. Finch guided the transition from running solely as an Ohio Historical Society operation to a Fort Meigs Association nonprofit about four years ago when the society’s budget was slashed by half.

The historian wonders what he will do in Iowa with all his War of 1812 knowledge. He said he might offer talks about the time period at functions. But Mr. Finch will miss a lot about Fort Meigs.

“The big thing I will miss is developing programs,” he said. “It is one of my favorite things to develop a story talk into an exciting program.”

Mr. Finch said he would like to return as a volunteer re-enactor from time to time.

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