Museum board to move forward

4Museum8-21The effort to build a museum in Lovell is moving ahead.

After appearing before both the Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce Board Monday and the Lovell Town Council Tuesday, the Lovell Museum Board has decided to continue working toward construction of a museum in the Lovell area.

Board members Rich Fink and Karen Spragg told the town council Tuesday night that, in light of the defeat of the museum district in the Aug. 19 primary election, the museum is pulling away from the Byron, Cowley, Deaver and Frannie areas and will return to its original focus area of Lovell-Kane. The board has also returned the name of the museum back to Lovell-Kane Museum from the name North Big Horn County Museum and Historical Center, which it had gone to prior to the election.

Fink thanked the council for their support and asked the basic question: “Should we go on, or should we quit?”

“Keep going,” Councilman Brian Dickson said. “We’ll figure out a way.”

Councilman Scott Allred noted that the museum board members have a passion for the project and should continue on.

“We want to go ahead,” Fink said, adding that the board wants to proceed carefully.

“We can get a grant for a building,” he said, “but if we don’t have the money to support it, we don’t want it to fall back on you.”

Fink noted that he and Spragg spoke to the chamber of commerce board Monday about continuing the relationship with the chamber to share the downtown visitor center, which both entities have agreed is mutually beneficial, giving the museum board a place to display artifacts and work and keeping the visitor center open during the afternoon.

“We’re talking to the chamber about building new display cases that could be moved out when we get a building,” Fink said. “We’ll need to go through you, them and Loretta (Bischoff, the building owner). We may try another mill levy (in just the Lovell area). We didn’t do a good job telling people what it would cost. It would be a smaller area, and it would be our area.

Spragg thanked Chamber Secretary Jackie Heinert, saying that she is “fun and great and makes it easy to be down there.” Spragg said a mother and daughter spent two hours at the chamber building Tuesday looking through albums and seeking history on the Internet.

“Our board is ready to go forth and do whatever it takes,” Fink said. “We don’t want to lose anymore history. We will go forward.”

Allred urged the pair to not take the district defeat as a referendum on the museum itself, saying that most people support the museum even if they didn’t like the idea of a tax. Fink noted that the mill levy doesn’t have to be a full mill, either, and could be three-quarters, a half or a quarter mill.

Mayor Bruce Morrison noted that the council has considered a request from Chamber President Craig Trumbull to reduce the rent on the chamber building to the museum board from its current $100 a month.

“We’d love it,” Fink said. “We could use the money for display cases and other things. But we know you give us money, too, so we’d be kind of trading money.”

Fink said the museum board is looking into a storage shed that could be used by both the museum and the chamber, and he said the chamber is welcome to use the board’s color printer.

By David Peck