RUSSELL – Set for next Mon., Feb. 11, the annual meeting of the Russell Village & District Historical Society will be a busy one with several items on the agenda.
Those items will include everything from committee reports and special reports on such matters as participation in the recent Living Locally Fair and Russell Township’s proposed Heritage Conservation District.
Perhaps more importantly will be the nomination and election of officers, and the delicate issue of who owns – or should own – the Keith Boyd Community Museum and who should be responsible for much-needed repairs.
The museum consists of two buildings, the former village fire hall and a deconsecrated frame church transported across the Castor River 30 years ago. Some of the wooden siding on the church is rotting and needs to be replaced at an estimated cost of $55,000.
Various versions of the historical society constitution indicate the buildings are the property of the township and the artifacts they contain are owned by the society “under the direction of the Township of Russell.”
In an email to society vice-president Harry Baker, Mayor Pierre Leroux indicated his understanding of ownership of buildings and artifacts according to the constitution. However, Leroux suggested the society should become a registered non-profit entity, separate from the township, and as such, responsible for the buildings and contents. Leroux and other municipal officials would like to see the society raise its own maintenance funds.
In connection with these discussions, Monday’s agenda contains an item on the constitution and preparing a Memorandum of Understanding with the township. One way or another, Baker has stated, the society is hoping to see repairs undertaken in this 30th anniversary year and a heritage plaque installed prior to the annual Heritage Festival in September.
The need for repairs was first pointed out in 2012. The society objected to a township proposal to apply the cheapest option, vinyl siding, on what’s believed to be the oldest public building in the township, erected in 1856.