Sangerville Historical Society can over challenges with the community’s help

To the Editor;

This has been a hard week for the Sangerville Historical Society. We learned a few days ago that the select board had voted unanimously to eliminate the SHS’ traditional request for funding from the annual town warrant. During a select board meeting on Wednesday, Feb 2, we learned that the Board regarded the Society as a “social service.” We disagree with their point of view.

The SHS is a preservation group that helps the town protect its identity as a community with a rich past. The select board will no longer consider any funding requests from the Society. This means that there will no longer be an article on the annual town meeting warrant which would allow the citizens to determine whether they think the Society is worthy of a small portion of the town’s budget.  

We explored the possibility of circulating a petition to introduce an article on the upcoming warrant that would request continued financial support from the town. Unfortunately, such a method requires submitting the petition 45 days prior to the town meeting. The select board is working hard to have the 2022 town meeting this month. That makes it impossible for the SHS to submit an article to be included on the warrant.

In recent years the SHS has requested $800 from the town each year in order to pay the liability insurance premium ($706) for our museum, but this year requested $1,000 because of rising costs. The balance of our expenses (water, sewer, electricity) are covered by membership dues and money we can get through fundraising. We ride a thin financial line. Efforts to maintain/improve the museum building, create artifact displays, and publish newsletters are restricted by our financial limitations.

So, what does this unexpected financial dilemma mean for the SHS? Most importantly, it does not mean that the Sangerville Historical Society has been dissolved. We are still a viable group dedicated to serving our community. The SHS will continue with its mission to collect, catalog, preserve and restore, and display artifacts and memorabilia that paint a picture of our town’s remarkable history and its citizens.  

Our accomplishments, other than archiving, fundraising, and maintaining the museum, include the following: took over temporary ownership of the former Abbie Fowler School so the town could obtain state and federal grants for the removal of hazardous materials; provided funds to have some of the old town record books repaired; sponsored and organized Sangerville Days; tended the welcome sign flower boxes up until two years ago; organized and raised funds for the former war honor roll and helped raise funds for its subsequent replacement; held public presentations including from the Maine Historic Preservation and on genealogy; organized an economic development committee with a focus to entice businesses to the community, to welcome those who have settled in the town; and to improve the internet service – this effort fizzled out when little direction was provided by town officials during a transitional time for town managers; and the SHS has spent time researching requests for ancestral information which freed up the office workers. We have and continue to work for the betterment of Sangerville, which includes preserving its rich history.

How can you help? First, we hope that you will continue your membership. Your annual dues and moral support are valuable. Consider becoming more active in the Society by:  

• attending our monthly meetings and sharing your ideas,  

• volunteering your time and talents (more about this will be shared in future emails/

newsletters), and

• spreading the word about the Sangerville Historical Society. The more people who 

know about the Society, the more support we might get.

The Sangerville Historical Society is only as strong as its members. Let’s work together to overcome this challenge, and rise as a strong, optimistic Society that reflects our shared values for preserving our town’s past for present and future generations!

Sangerville Historical Society officers

Diana Bowley, president

Tom Carone, vice president

Dyan McCarthy Clark, secretary

Jane Boutilier, treasurer

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