To the editor:
As president of the Douglas County Historical Society, I want to thank the Lawrence Journal-World for publicizing the financial problems of the Watkins Community Museum of History.
The museum has operated on deficit spending for several years and is in a deficit position again this year. This trend is incompatible with the viability of the museum and can only be solved by increased funding, curtailing spending or both.
Increased income had not appeared likely for the remainder of the current fiscal year, so this resulted in a significant reduction of the salaries of our two valued full-time employees and the elimination of a part-time position. The management committee was fully aware of the hardships this would impose on both Steve Jansen, who has worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the museum, and Judy Sweets, a single mother who has served the community in many ways, especially with the Underground Railroad project. The reduction of salaries was imposed by financial imperatives in the interest of the survival of the museum.
As a result of the Journal-World's publicity, several individuals and businesses have already come forward to begin to relieve the situation. There is now a glimmer of hope that the public may also come forward to support the museum as a valuable asset in our community. We will be launching several fund-raising efforts within the next few weeks with the hope that our community will respond sufficiently (about $20,000) that we will be able to meet our budget and raise the salaries ... but that will depend on financial support by those who are concerned.
The livelihood of these faithful employees lies in the hands of potential donors and members. Anyone interested in helping by membership or donation prior to our upcoming financial drive should call the museum (841-4109) or me (843-9504).