Dubois mayor voices concern over museum resignations

Feb 3, 2014 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Dubois Mayor Twila Blakeman wants Fremont County commissioners to rehire two Dubois museum staff who resigned. She also seeks reassurance on the direction of building a new facility in her town.

"If our girls were back they could not only run that program tremendously, but they could help that new director," Blakeman said at a recent commission meeting. "I don't know how you could do it ... (but) our community would be forever thankful if you could rehire them."

Dubois museum director Katrina Krupicka and curator Melinda Bobo resigned Dec. 12. At the commission's meeting Jan. 7, Blakeman said the women left because the Fremont County Museums Board removed Steve Banks, of Dubois, as chairman.

"The rest of the council feels the same way, we're all together on this," Dubois town councilman Rick Lee said. "We're not happy with the way things are going."

The county board does not have the authority to hire museums staff, commission chairman Doug Thompson said, only the museums board does.

Blakeman echoed concerns she raised at the commission's meeting Jan. 7, that plans to build a new Dubois museum had stalled.

"I would like some kind of commitment from this board as to how much (money) you're giving to the museum," she said.

The Fremont County Museums Board announced recently it would put off building the new facility for several years but would continue designing it.

Funds the county had allocated for the building's design, about $125,000, are still committed to the project, Thompson said.

"I want to assure the community you haven't been put on the back burner, but you're a public official, you know money drives all these decisions," he said.

The cost to build the $2.5 million structure would be split, he said.

"It was discussed the county would provide half and the community would provide half," he said. "We didn't say 'amen' and start handing out million dollar bills then."

The impetus for a new building is to better protect the artifacts, Blakeman said. The current facility is inadequate in that regard, she said.

Plans were moving forward for the Dubois museum, but it would have to be weighed against other needs, Thompson said.

"I guarantee it won't happen fast enough for some and too fast for others," he said.

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