Museum receives preservation grant
As flood recovery efforts continue, the Tioga County Historical Society (TCHS) has received a $13,000 grant from American Express via the Preservation League of New York State. Saying that American Express wanted to work with "the gritty, hard core needs, not glamour projects," the Preservation League's Regional Director for Technical Grant Programs for Western New York Tania Werbizky said that the grant will be used for repairing infrastructure damage to the Historical Society's museum at 110 Front St. in Owego.
Werbizky said that while the Preservation League has been working in Owego after the flood, the topic of the TCHS and museum came up again and again, even with hard-hit victims of the flood. "It was both poignant and descriptive of the community spirit in Owego," Werbizky said of the concern for the Historical Society, adding that people have come together to play unique roles in the museum's recovery. Werbizky checked for special funding that might be available for the society's needs, and that American Express was there. When the grant was approved, Werbizky said that the amount exceeded her expectations.
The Historical Society's Director Kevin Lentz thanked American Express and the Preservation League for their support, and he also thanked the volunteers who had put in a lot more time as a result of the flood than in a normal year. Lentz reported that the society had received grants of $27,266 dollars, including $10,591.54 from the Hyde Foundation specifically for flood recovery, during 2011/2012. In total, the Historical Society's annual report shows that they have so far received income of $114,997 during this fiscal year, including $18,846 in the donation box and $17,853 in individual and business contributions. Another $4,505 came from local government grants.
The Historical Society would be doing pretty good if not for the flood, which has taken some $365,437 out of its account for building maintenance and repair, leaving a deficit of $284,525. This has been covered by transferring money from the society's endowment account.
The O Tannenbaum event was highly successful this year, Lentz reported, drawing a larger than normal attendance of 3,800 people, and earning $8,638 at the gift shop and in contributions, as well as $12,578 from businesses and individuals for business card ads and tree sponsorships. Lentz said that this year will see a renewed effort to reestablish educational opportunities for the youth of the county, such as the 'Red White and Blue' contest regarding the Bill of Rights and Constitution.
There was also a change in a leadership spot for the Historical Society's Board of Trustees, with President Rikki Springsteed replaced by Andrea Melione. Springsteed will continue her work for the museum as volunteer curator. Melione said that it was an honor to be elected president of the society's board, and that she was moved by the volunteers and all who have done so much for the museum. There are a number of committee positions available still for exhibits and other projects, which Melione said do not require participants to be a board member to sit on. Encouraging people to come out and volunteer for the museum, Melione said she was "surprised at how welcoming and kind people were" when she first got involved with the Tioga County Historical Society.
The Tioga County Historical Society can be reached at 607-687-2460, or firstname.lastname@example.org.