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Private Bureaucracy Threatens Missouri / Kansas History

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The February 15th,2008 edition of the Lawrence Journal-World carried an article entitled "Watkins Director Dismissed" which details the dismissal of long-time director of the Watkins Community Museum of History, which is located where else, but Douglas County, Kansas.

The article states that, "The director of the Watkins Community Museum of History has been dismissed as part of a shake-up in the management of the struggling nonprofit.

In a short news release, the board of directors of the Douglas County Historical Society — which oversees Watkins — announced that Rebecca Phipps no longer was director of the museum.

When contacted Thursday, Phipps said she did not resign from the museum, but she declined to go into specifics about her departure.

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“At this point, I don’t want to comment until I’ve had a chance to talk to an attorney,” Phipps said.

Phyllis Tiffany, chairwoman of the historical society’s board of directors, said there has been “a very clear trend downward in interest, membership, funding and our approach to membership and funding.”

She said the museum’s administrative structure needed to be reorganized to reverse that trend."

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So in layman's terms, Phipps was fired. The fact that funding was listed as one of the reasons for her dismissal, is not surprising. The Freedom's Fraud website, which has been following the coverage of the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, has long questioned the support of the public , based on the amount of financial contributions it has received.

The fact that Phipps would not comment without speaking to an attorney , makes this writer question the reasons for her dismissal.

Was it really over lack of revenue that the museum has been generating lately, or is there something that the Douglas County Historical Society is not telling us?

It is not a far fetched theory, to wonder if Phipps was dismissed for other reasons. Perhaps she did not agree with the way that the Douglas County Historical Society and Destination Management has been presenting the history of the Missouri / Kansas border area.

Additional information found in the February 15th, Lawrence Journal-World newspaper states that, "Phyllis Tiffany, chairwoman of the historical society’s board of directors, said there has been “a very clear trend downward in interest, membership, funding and our approach to membership and funding.”

She said the museum’s administrative structure needed to be reorganized to reverse that trend.

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“There has been a tremendous awareness on the part of the board that a lot of changes had to be made, to join the 21st century, if you will,” she said. “A lot of reorganization needed to be taken care of.

“Rebecca Phipps has a lot of skills and so forth, but they didn’t seem to be compatible with what we’re trying to do,” Tiffany said.

Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said he did not know the specifics behind the dismissal. But he said county commissioners had expressed concerns to the museum board of directors, which is an independent organization that receives about $135,000 in county funding on an annual basis. Weinaug said the county has challenged the group to find revenue sources other than tax dollars.

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Clint E. Lacy is a friend of freedom and a Southern author and activist. He resides in the Ozark Foothills of Southeast Missouri.

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