Roger Aergerter, retired educator in area schools and a resident of Jefferson since 1978, has started working part-time this month as the historical society’s first executive director in a decade.
The fact that we as a board of directors decided to hire someone for the position is a sign of growth in the organization. And the interviewing and hiring process we went through in December gave me a number of reminders why I’ve enjoyed being an active member the eight years we’ve lived in the county.
For me it comes down to the quality and variety of the historical programs we present, the determination to have fresh temporary exhibits in the museums along with the permanent ones, the group’s insistence on historical standards for items we accept for the collection and the camaraderie at our monthly meetings held around the county. Those Friday noon meetings, which typically attract 60 or more people, start with excellent $8 meals usually prepared by church kitchen crews. After the meal, someone does a presentation on some aspect of local history —and those presentations are free and open to the public.
There are also three or four additional free “special programs” held during a year, generally on Sunday afternoons at the museum, and those have drawn crowds of 200 or more. My wife Carla Offenburger and I had lived in Greene County only a few weeks in 2004 when we read that the historical society was hosting a Sunday afternoon “poetry reading.” We decided to check it out and were astonished to find a crowd of more than 75 people there, listening intently to a dozen or so presenters. Some read original verse (three generations of the McGregor-Pound family), and others recited historical poems (like Lawrence Geisler’s stirring reading of “Casey at the Bat”). If there’s an organization that has events like this, we thought, we’re even happier we live here.
In another special program in 2007, Jerry Roberts wrote an original script for a one-person play about the life of Grand Junction’s Eva Leonard. From the 1920s to the ’40s, she was the darling of musical theater in New York City, then she died mysteriously. Nicole Friess Schilling played Leonard, the late Carson Griffith backed her on piano in all the performance numbers, and the production was a huge hit.
Memberships ($20 per family, $15 individuals), a few grants, donations and some support from the Greene County Board of Supervisors have sustained the historical society. Roger Aegerter will now help us maintain and grow all we do — including much more out-reach on the Internet and social media. It’s a good time for you of all ages to join the fun.
Chuck Offenburger is a member of the board of directors of the Greene County Historical Society. You can write him at chuck@Offenburger.com.
Information provided by Chuck Offenburger, Greene County Historical Society.