Volunteers to operate Bushy Run museum

| Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society has reached an agreement with the state to officially take over operation of the battlefield's Museum and Visitors Center.

The agreement was reached Wednesday during a meeting between society board members and representatives of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The meeting was coordinated by state Sen. Kim Ward and held at her Harrisburg office.

"We'll be able to move ahead," said Jean Loughry, president of the heritage society.

The agreement should be signed within 60 to 90 days. The state will continue to provide maintenance of the battlefield grounds.

The pact had been in the works since last year, when the commission decided it needed to turn over operations in the midst of the state budget crisis. In August, society volunteers began running the museum and gift shop after the state relocated the museum director to another site due to budget cuts.

But an official agreement was needed for the society to move forward with fundraising and new programming at the site, Pennsylvania's only recognized Native American battlefield.

Kirk Wilson, spokesman for the commission, said the state will continue to provide a full-time and part-time employee to maintain the battlefield. The state will pay for utilities and telecommunications.

It's estimated those costs will add up to about $150,000 annually. The battlefield's annual budget had been more than $300,000 in recent years.

"It's because of the work done by these volunteers that Bushy Run continues to be open to the public. This type of partnership is a great example of how we can preserve Pennsylvania's rich heritage in the wake of the financial stress the state is facing," Ward said in a news release.

The society recently hired a museum facilitator to coordinate volunteers, run the educational program and take charge of the day-to-day museum operations.

To kick off new programs and fundraising opportunities, the society will host its first Mother's Day Tea at 1 p.m. Saturday at the visitors center.

Mothers and their children of all ages are invited for the formal event, where tea, hot chocolate, pastries and finger sandwiches will be served. Participants are asked to dress up with gloves and hats, but it is not required.

Reservations for the tea, which costs $12 for each mother/child pair and $3 for each additional guest, are due today. Call 724-972-7396 to make a reservation.

For more information about Bushy Run, contact Lauren Buches, museum facilitator, at 724-527-5584, ext. 101 or visit www.bushyrunbattlefield.com .

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