Museums board continues Dubois plans

Jul 22, 2012 By Christina George, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Commission this Tuesday is expected to officially approve vice chairman Pat Hickerson to be the new liaison for the county museums board.

"Doug and I are swapping some liaison positions," Hickerson told the museums board during its July 12 meeting in Dubois.

Hickerson will take over for Doug Thompson. He said the decision was due to Thompson's schedule and limitations for him to attend the monthly meetings.

Hickerson said he would attempt to make the museums board's meetings and better help with communication with the commission.

Later in the meeting, museums board chairman Tom Duncan said he was pleased to see a change in the commission representation. Duncan said the last time the commission's liaison attended a board meeting was last November.

Future Dubois museum

At the recent meeting, Hickerson told the board he was concerned with plans to build a new museum in Dubois due to county budget issues.

"I want to be making sure we can build something we can afford," he said. "I don't want to build something that is set up to fail."

Last month, Lander architect Mike Quinn presented preliminary drawings of the roughly 14,000-square-foot facility to the board.

The building has an estimated price tag between $2.5 million and $3 million, and one of the chief reasons for its need is a shortage in storage space in the current facility.

Hickerson said the largest worry he has with the project is the day-to-day operations.

Board treasurer Butch Tonkin said solar options are being considered because one of the largest expenses for the Dubois building will be electricity.

"We are looking at how to build an operation that will cost no more than today's operation with today's dollars," Duncan added.

He said there has been discussion about using some materials from the current facility and possibly establishing an endowment fund.

Tonkin said the board met with the architect earlier in the day to review preliminary plans.

"We have a basic floor plan and that's as far as we are," he said.

Dubois Museum and Wind River Historical Center director Katrina Krupicka said discussions about the new building's cost efficiency must involve consideration the facility is a museum holding artifacts.

For example, climate control is a must to preserve conditions of the exhibits, she said.

"We've been extremely conservative when looking at what we need for the exhibits," Krupicka said.

Duncan asked Hickerson about the possibility of using funds from the Wyoming State Lands and Investments Board.

Hickerson said it would depend on how the Legislature allocates the funds. He added that he believed pursuing a SLIB grant would be a good opportunity but worries about the match that typically comes from the county at 50 percent.

After the meeting, Hickerson met with the museums board and reviewed the architect's drawings.

The board's next meeting is at 1 p.m. on Aug. 9 at the Fremont County Courthouse in Lander.

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