President’s Message Summer 2012

Mark Foutch, President 

You might (or might not) have noticed that our first OHS newsletter of the year is later than usual.  We’ve faced some organizational challenges but now we’re back on track, and rolling.
At the annual business meeting in January our members elected Tim Ransom and Brian Tomlinson to the Board, but we were still one short of the seven members, minimum, required in the Bylaws.   Then Anne Kilgannon came to the February Board meeting and volunteered to fill the vacant Board position.  The Board could make that interim appointment, and gladly did.   Thanks to Tim, Brian and Anne for stepping up to help!

At its March meeting the Board elected these officers for 2012:
President  Mark Foutch
Vice President Tim Ransom
Secretary Mark Derricott
Treasurer Ralph Blankenship

Activities to date:
On April 17, with the City of Olympia Stream Team, we sponsored our Web expert Deb Ross for her presentation about the Schneider family of Schneider Creek (and lots of other places in NW Olympia) at Traditions Fair Trade Café.  Our first general meeting at the Coach House April 21 featured a very interesting program by Ed Echtle, on African-American pioneers in Olympia and Thurston County.  And on April 26 Tim Ransom gave a great talk, also at Traditions, about the personalities who helped shape the Nisqually Delta as we know it today.  We co-sponsored that event with the League of Women Voters.

On May 12 OHS assembled a big exhibit on law enforcement and firefighting in Thurston County from 1920-25 as part of the third Thurston County Through The Decades event since the series started last year.  This was a major effort at Lacey’s Huntamer Park, sponsored by the Lacey Historical Museum and the City of Lacey.  New Board member Brian Tomlinson stepped took the lead, collecting photographs and artifacts (including two vintage fire engines) from local cities, fire districts, and the County.  Anne Kilgannon wrote OHS’ interpretive text for the program and Ralph Blankenship managed onsite staffing.  An outstanding effort!

This is the Olympia Historical Society’s 10th year of serving our members and the community.  The Board held a planning Retreat on Saturday  May 19  at the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Church on the Westside. During the opening session we heard from some our predecessors who established OHS and kept it going and improving its services through the last decade.  Many thanks to Vice President Tim Ransom for initiating and conducting a very productive morning meeting.  We’ll post Tim’s Retreat summary when it’s ready.
The whole community is getting ready up to support a huge event:  About a hundred traditional Northwest Native American canoes from tribes far and near will arrive at the tip of Olympia’s Port Peninsula starting July 30 for a six-day meeting there and at the Squaxin Island Tribe’s reservation in Mason County.  It’s the first time the annual tribal Canoe Journey has come to Olympia.  We hope OHS members will volunteer to assist the community effort, led by former Olympia Mayor Doug Mah.  We plan to have a Society presence there to publicize our organization.  Expect big crowds!

Meanwhile, Deb Ross has added even more features and services to our website and Facebook page.  Try the new interactive historical reference feature “Where Are We?”  It had more than 3000 “hits” its first two weeks online!  And Program Chair Shanna Stevenson will bring us more great speakers and topics to our quarterly general meetings..

Our Board has been meeting more often, which is useful, what with all the activity we’ve been seeing.  But we need to do a better job of notifying our members when and where we’re meeting.  The Board has traditionally met in its members’ homes, and sometimes the meetings have had to be rescheduled at short notice as our individual schedules demand.  But the Bylaws require a week’s notice of Board meetings to all OHS members.  We WILL do better on this.  Watch the OHS Bulletins.

Finally, as I mentioned above, your Olympia Historical Society is 10 years old this year.  Our incorporation papers were filed with the Secretary of State’s office February 11, 2002.   We’re pretty young as local history groups go, but already we “newbies” wonder whether we’re losing track of our own history.  We’d like to hear from those who were there at the beginning, and we’d be grateful if someone would research the records in Collections Chair Sue Goff’s files and write about OHS’ achievements and challenges over its first decade.  It would make a great series of articles for the newsletter!

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