ITOW Museum preparing for Veterans Day [UPDATED]Published 9:45am Tuesday, October 15, 2013 Updated 11:46am Tuesday, October 15, 2013
After a long period of financial struggles, the In Their Own Words Veterans Museum in Perham has a new executive director in Darla Ellingson and, according to her, a healthier and more positive future.
“I think we’re in a good position and we’re growing stronger all the time,” said Ellingson, who also serves as the director of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.
The turnaround comes just in time for this year’s Veteran’s Day festivities.
There will be a free meal for veterans at the museum on Veteran’s Day, as well as a rummage sale, museum tours and a raffle, among other events, to be held the weekend before the holiday.
The color guard will also be on hand to answer questions and lead the museum tours.
One of the items being raffled off is the American flag that was flying over the White House on Sept. 11, 2001. Raffling off the flag was the brainchild of Sandra Waldon, an employee of celebration sponsor United Community Bank.
The flag will be professionally folded and placed in a triangular case.
Vendors interested in having a spot at the events Saturday can still rent a table and chairs for $30.
The Veteran’s Day events will be just the latest in a very busy first few months on the job for Ellingson. She started as museum director Aug. 1 and immediately set about trying to straighten out the museum’s finances.
After failing to pay back a building loan, the Veteran’s Museum was in financial straits.
One of Ellingson’s first tasks as director was to begin making community connections, which she said has proved fairly easy in Perham.
“You can really feel in Perham that people want these museums to succeed,” she said.
Along with new leadership comes a new name. The non-profit organization in charge of the museum, formerly called The Friends of The Museum, will now do business as The History and Cultural Association of East Otter Tail County.
Although the museum is not out of the woods yet, Ellingson said she is pleased with the progress made in her first two months.
She worked to restructure the building debt so it would not be a hinderance on day-to-day museum operations. Ellingson is confident in the museum’s future viability.
Taking over operations of a struggling business can seem intimidating. But for Ellingson, who has previous experience in business development, there was a great opportunity to do good work.
“It wasn’t something that wasn’t solvable,” Ellingson said. “Sometimes it just takes a little guidance.”