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Board OKs use of museum for convention

Jul 10, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Museums Board has approved the request from the Wyoming Association of County Officers to use the Fremont County Pioneer Museum to host a four-day convention in September.

More than 200 local officials from the state are expected to attend.

Julie Freese, the county clerk representative to WACO, said the group also plans on using space at the Museum of the American West for the convention that is sponsored by the Fremont County government. She said the conventions usually are held in bigger towns, but local elected officials requested that the event be held in Lander.

"By having all these people throughout the state who are county folks go through that, then maybe they can take that back to their communities and say it's a really cool place to go if they go through Lander," Freese said.

Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett made the initial request at a board meeting in May.

Some board members were concerned about serving alcohol in a facility that houses historic items.

"This is one of those things that people kind of come in and out for; it's a come as you want type of thing," Freese explained to the board. "As elected officials we are committed to make sure nothing happens ... to the things in our county."

The convention will use the knotty wood pine bar on display on the second floor at the Pioneer Museum and also set up a tent with a caterer outside of the Museum of the American West.

Damage deposits

Board chairman Tom Duncan asked directors from the Riverton and Dubois museums about their standard procedures for damage deposits. The directors provided the charges they require for private parties but said they didn't think a deposit was necessary for this event because it is being held by the county.

"Do you think you need a damage deposit from the folks who fund you?" Freese asked the board. "I'm sorry, I'm feeling a little bit offended at that."

Jon Lane, a board member and the curator of public programs at the South Pass City State Historic Site, favored the monetary request, because he said it would show locals and county officials that the same is requested from everyone interested in renting their space.

"I think that we are responsible citizens of Fremont County," Freese said, "I cannot imagine that we would not take care of that."

The board said that in the near future, proper provisions need to be set so if the same request came up, they would have set guidelines. Duncan asked Freese if WACO would use the museums again if the convention is successful.

"As an elected official, I thought this would be way easier than it has been," Freese said. "This seems to be a huge problem for this board. I'm probably going to look for another venue."

She added that Lander doesn't have a facility to hold these types of events, but this would be a great way to "show off" the museums.

"From a museum philosophy, when you're directed to preserve and maintain the artifacts, and when you're proposing the use of accession artifacts for a social event that involves solvents, there are some ways that you can do this," Duncan said, adding that the typical museum protocol would be to reject the request.

Accession artifacts are items in a museum that are usually kept out of reach from the public.

Connie Shannon, the director of the Lander museums, said the bar's top is not very old and was replaced leaving the original surface underneath.

"What's underneath that bar top is the accession artifact," she said.

"It doesn't make it less of an artifact simply because it doesn't have the original surface," Duncan responded.

"We also considered the dynamics of what's happening in Lander without (a facility) and we also considered that it's very important to have traffic in our county facilities, of which we're very proud," Duncan said.

The board voted to approve the request with the appropriate alcohol serving permits approved by the City of Lander and other conditions.

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