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Museum applicants interviewed, call for a more cooperative spirit

Oct 10, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Three applicants seeking an open seat on the Fremont County Museums Board have been interviewed.

Carol Chidsey and Steve Faerber, both of Lander, and Mark Wingerson of Dubois each spent roughly 30 minutes answering questions posed by Fremont County commissioners.

The candidates described the qualities they deemed important in a new Lander museum director, what they think of working with other groups, and what they could bring to the board if appointed.

A fourth applicant, Rena Hansen, was set to be interviewed as well, but the Central Wyoming College student's school schedule prevented her from attending the initial session Oct. 2.

The museums board seat opened in August after Eileen Urbigkeit resigned, citing dissatisfaction with other board members' actions in terminating Fremont County Pioneer Museum director Carol Thiesse during a special meeting Urbigkeit did not attend.

Commissioners are expected to appoint the new board member this month. The position comes with a nine-month term that expires June 30.

Chidsey said she applied for the position because she is interested in history and would like to see more cohesiveness in the museum system.

The museums board oversees operations in Lander, Riverton and Dubois.

"Fremont County has a really unique history," Chidsey said, mentioning the Oregon Trail, logging, farming and the reservation.

She said she could see the board acting as a facilitator and a "central hub" of the three museums.

"It seems the museums board could encourage openness and welcoming of different groups interested in history," Chidsey said. "It would be neat if we could all be on the same page."

Chidsey currently serves on the Fremont County Historical Preservation Commission. If she is appointed to the museums board, she said she would likely step down from the commission.

Chidsey said a key to a good museum director is public relations skills,

specially in a community the size of Lander.

"You need someone who can do a lot of healing," she added.

As a consultant for nonprofit organizations, Chidsey said she has experience working with boards and administrators.

She said she feels having a Lander resident on the board could help the relationship with the community.

MAW cooperation

Faerber said he applied for the seat because he would like to facilitate a working relationship with the Museum of the American West board, which he currently serves. He is also involved with the Pioneer Association and thinks his relationships with the two groups could be beneficial for the museums board.

Faerber has previous experience on the Historical Preservation Commission.

He told commissioners he believes it could be best to have the museums system organized and operated as one entity, with groups working together with the same policies and management.

"Being in the tourism business, I'm all for museums because that draws tourists to the area," said Faerber, who works at the Louis Lake Lodge.

Faerber said the new Lander director should bring professionalism, experience and education in museum management to the table as well as skills in working with the public.

He said the board should oversee museums, but directors should be able to "work with their own communities."

When asked about a conflict with serving on both the MAW and county boards, Faerber said he doesn't see one.

"I actually see it as a strength," he said. "I think I could get on the board and do some healing."

Contributor

Wingerson is a semi-retired attorney who would like to serve on the board so that he could contribute more.

"I'm very interested in the new archaeology developments around Dubois and the role the museum could play," he said.

Wingerson said he could bring a sense of professionalism to the board.

He said the case has been made for a new Dubois museum, and if Riverton were seeking a new facility, he would need to know why. He said he is not familiar with the museum in Riverton, and although he is generally unopposed to improving museums in the county, he feels a case would need to be made.

Wingerson said the new director in Lander must be qualified for the job, have people skills and know how to be diplomatic.

"It's a delicate job," he added.

Wingerson's experience with public boards and administrators has been as a legal adviser, setting up and defining various parts of an organization. For example, he said he wrote the by-laws for the museum board in Dubois.

He said his problem-solving approach is to address the issue at hand instead of running away from it. He said this did not necessarily mean he acts hastily.

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