The Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum celebrated a successful 2012 on Tuesday evening during their annual meeting.
“We’ve had a good year,” said Mindy Tallent, Museum executive director. “It’s been a transitional year.”
Part of that transition was her taking over as director last year.
“We opened up the year with two brand new exhibits,” she said.
Those included the Red Desert, Green Prairie, Blue Sky exhibit and the Pioneer Bluffs Artist Showcase.
They are continuing to focus on updating their permanent exhibits, but also show new temporary exhibits, such as the campaign button exhibit last year.
“We also have been doing work on the equipment outdoors,” she said.
That includes putting up more information about the pieces, cleaning and repairing.
The board also has been busy, setting their strategic plan last March.
“We still have a lot we want to work on,” Tallent said. “We need to increase memberships so we can continue to thrive.”
They also want to increase funding.
One way they hope to attract new members is through more special events and exhibits at the museum.
Last year, new events included the trick or treat night, as well as the formation of a genealogy group.
“Our biggest event was our old-fashioned Christmas,” she said. “Every building was staffed with volunteers.”
They also opened two new Web sites last year, one on 360eldorado.com and www.kansasoilmuseum.org. They are working on a new interactive exhibit “Beyond Butler County’s Borders.”
The museum had 4,881 visitors in 2012 and sold 352 memberships. Their visitors came from 28 states and 10 countries.
“Obviously, we couldn’t exist without the help of everyone,” Tallent said. “There were more volunteer hours this year than since we started tracking hours, but we had fewer volunteers.”
That led her to the next portion of the evening, volunteer recognition awards.
The first to be recognized was David Dekker, who received his 50-hour pin. He is at the museum several times during the week and just comes in and asks what needs to be done.
The next to be recognized was David Jervis, who also is a board member. He received a 150-hour pin. He has served on the board for 10 years.
Another 150-hour pin went to Diana Edmiston, board president.
“She has been an extremely dedicated board member,” Tallent said, adding that she was sure her total volunteer hours was higher than that.
Page 2 of 3 - Richard King also served on the board, showing a passion for local history. He received his 300-hour pin.
Another 300-hour pin went to Barb Rawlings, who Tallent described as the “go-to” volunteer. She has been working on their computer files.
Two volunteers not present but who were recognized were Lora Nakaten with 50 hours and Merrill Green with 300 hours.
The top three volunteers were Carol Turner, with 2,000 accumulative hours; Pat Hicks with 200 hours from just one year of volunteering; and Dale Wilson, who has 1,000 hours.
Tallent said Wilson is there almost every morning.
“Just this year he gave over 300 hours,” Tallent said, pointing out the 1,000 hours is just what he has kept track of.
“We honestly could not exist if not for Dale helping out over all these years,” she said.
The last to be recognized were what Tallent called the “volun-tolds,” also known as the staff members’ husbands, who are in on the evenings and weekends helping.
According to the non-profit sector, one hour of volunteer time is worth $22.14.
“We couldn’t survive without your help,” she said.
Next, Edmiston opened the business meeting portion of the evening.
She began by thanking one other person involved in the museum, Tallent.
“Mindy has excitement and enthusiasm and has made it a different place when you walk in here,” she said.
During the business meeting, the board approved the financial report and the slate of nominees for the Board of Trustees, including four new trustees, Patty Hanson, Loren Jack, Kelsey Sundgren and Dan Wilson.
The evening concluded with a guest speaker, local author Robert Collins, who talked about his latest book, “Kansas County Seat Conflicts: The Elections, the Feuds, and the Wars.”
Collins began by defining county seat conflicts as any attempt to move a county seat, but not necessarily including violence.
“A lot of it was motivated by greed,” he said.
Collins explained people would have lots they wanted to sell, so they wanted to have the county seat in their town because it brought a lot of people to the town to do business.
“Sometimes these towns got into a fight because they wanted attention from the county seat,” he added.
One example of that was in Reno County when Arlington was upset Hutchinson was not paying enough attention to them. That fight only lasted about six weeks to two months.
Other conflicts lasted clear in the 1960s.
Page 3 of 3 - One big conflict of interest to everyone of course was the Butler County county seat fight between El Dorado and Augusta. Previously, only El Dorado’s side had been told because the Augusta newspaper at the time did not survive so their accounts of the events were not known, but in his research Collins found a letter from someone in Augusta to a Topeka newspaper at the time stating Augusta’s side.
He talked a little about Augusta’s view, which is included in his book.
“Augusta believed they had won the county seat election,” he said. “Of note was there was never an official canvas of that vote. El Dorado got the seat by default.”
The conflict came up again in 1883 when Douglass wanted to be split off and be the seat of a new county, but that did not go anywhere.
His book also talks about county seat fights between Hillsboro and Marion, in Greenwood County and in McPherson County.
Collins concluded by saying this would probably be his last non-fiction book for a while.
“It has been fun seeing how this place (the museum) is continuing to grow and thrive,” he said.
Tallent concluded the evening with announcements of upcoming events, including a preview party and ice cream social.
“We’ve had a pretty exciting year,” she said. “I’m excited about the momentum we’ve been gaining and thank you all for all of your support in helping us grow.”