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RBC — Rio Blanco County Historical Society members elected officers Sunday, including a new treasurer, a position that has been temporarily filled since the dismissal of Shelly Flannery.
Ellen Reichert, a historical society board member, will be the new treasurer. She had been the vice president. Steve Wix, who was re-elected president, has managed the treasurer’s duties since the board fired Flannery in June for allegedly mishandling the organization’s funds. The Meeker Police Department investigated the case.
“As far as the investigation, I haven’t heard anything, other than it was turned over to the DA (district attorney),” Wix said.
Lt. Glenn Wilson of the Meeker Police Department said his investigation was concluded and the findings turned over to the DA.
“The investigation was completed in November,” Wilson said. “The case been referred to the district attorney’s (office), so they can make a determination on the facts of the case to see whether or not filing of charges would be appropriate. So it’s pretty much in their hands at this point.”
Anthony Mazzola, investigator for the 9th Judicial District, said, “The Meeker PD brought it to the DA’s office. The attorneys are reviewing it for prosecution decisions.”
In October, Flannery was charged in Steamboat Springs, alleging she stole as much as $72,000 during her time as executive director of Routt County Habitat for Humanity. She is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 23.
“One of the directors on that board, just a couple of days ago, told me she was looking at four to eight years in prison,” Wix said, eliciting applause from some board members.
“I feel kind of sorry for her,” Wix said. “But she did the crime, she needs to do the time.”
On Jan. 1, the Steamboat Pilot reported Flannery could face up to eight years in prison if convicted, according to Colorado sentencing guidelines.
Since the revelation of the bookkeeping discrepancies, Wix said the organization’s financial situation has stabilized, but money is tight.
“We’re in fairly good shape,” Wix said. “We have hardly any extra money, but we make it. Our true purpose is to run the (White River) museum, and we have enough to do that. We are on pretty sound footing right now. We’re just plugging along with our projects.”
Those projects include conducting oral history interviews with older residents of the county and development of the Milk Creek Battlefield Park.
At Sunday’s quarterly meeting, 95-year-old Evelyn Metzger shared her oral history, along with board member David Steinman, who had interviewed her.
Besides Wix and Reichert as officers, Tom Allen was elected vice president and Margaret “Sparky” Pappas was re-elected secretary. The terms of officers run for one year.
Also, Chris Uphoff and Carol Daugherty were elected to three-year terms on the board. Other board members are Linda Cogswell, Gayle Rogers, Steinman and Joe Sullivan.
In his treasurer’s report, Wix said the historical society received $35,000 from the county for 2009, an increase of $5,000 from previous years. However, the historical society had requested $50,000, he noted.
“I’m happy the county increased (its contribution) $5,000, but we could have used a lot more than that,” Wix said. “It’s not really what we were needing, because just the payroll for the museum is $30,000, so we’re going to have to keep doing fundraising. We just have to scrounge, do fundraising, whatever we can (to make up the difference).”
The county is the historical society’s primary source of income.
“The county supports us,” Wix said. “That’s where most of our money comes from. We’re happy for what the county can give us. They have their restraints, too, and there are a lot of other people asking for money, so we understand.”
With the start of the new year, annual membership fees for 2009 are due, Wix said. For those over 65, the membership fee is $10. For people under 65, dues are $20. A family membership is available for $30, and business memberships are $50.
“Talk to your friends and neighbors about joining the historical society,” Wix said. “We can always use new members.”
Despite the past year’s problems with the organization’s bookkeeping, Sandy Shimko of the White River Museum said the historical society was moving in the right direction.
“They can’t call us the hysterical society anymore,” she said. “We’re too good. We’re accomplishing things now.”