On Tuesday, February 14, the Board of Trustees of the Exeter Historical Society voted to accept a balanced budget for 2017. While the decision was made in the spirit of fiscal responsibility, the Board nonetheless wrestled with the reality that the organization would need to eliminate staff in order to achieve financial stability. The past few years have been challenging ones for the Exeter Historical Society. While membership numbers have remained stable and programming draws consistent interest from the community, fundraising efforts have not been successful at keeping up with costs. Shifts in patterns of philanthropic giving and declining revenues have dictated that the Board must cut expenses in order to maintain the Society. In light of this, the Board made the very difficult decision to eliminate the positions of Curator and Program Manager from the budget.
Barbara Rimkunas has held the position of Curator for the past sixteen years. In that time, Ms. Rimkunas has come to be recognized as a vital member of the Exeter community for her wealth of knowledge about town history. She wrote the column “Historically Speaking” for the Exeter News-Letter and instituted the “Exeter History Minute” video series. Ms. Rimkunas is the author of two books about Exeter’s past, including Hidden History of Exeter and Exeter: Historically Speaking. She is a popular speaker for local organizations and a frequent presenter at RiverWoods and many other community venues. Laura Martin has worked for the Exeter Historical Society as Program Manager since 2005, helping to initiate the "Exeter History Minute" series and to develop popular programs on Abraham Lincoln's visit to Exeter, among other topics of local interest. She created and designed the Society's website and manages its social media presence.
“This was an agonizing decision for the Board,” said Ann Gustafson Schieber, chair of the Board of Trustees, “but we had to move forward with a plan that would allow the Society to continue with its core mission of preserving and promoting the history of Exeter in the spirit of our late benefactor, Nancy Carnegie Merrill.” Schieber added, “By returning to our origins as a volunteer organization, we will have an opportunity to regroup and focus our efforts on solidifying the financial support for the organization. We will sorely miss Barbara’s and Laura's contributions to the Society, but hope the community will rally to our cause. Our program of events will be presented as scheduled, and we will continue to offer our members and area residents the best of local history.”
Membership continues to form the backbone of the Society. We welcome Exeter residents and anyone with an interest in our rich history to join the Society. Members who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to call the Society at 778-2335, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.