Museum hires marketing director

Progress towards a new Piatt County Museum campus in Monticello has taken place in fits and starts since it was announced nearly 20 years ago.

It’s the job of newly hired marketing and program director Courtney Groves to make sure progress is more consistent at 1 Heritage Lane.

The site already has the shells of a both education center and barn-style museum buildings, the latter going up in 2014. That was the last significant work performed at the site, which now needs a 15,000-square-foot building that will connect the pair of existing structures and serve as the main entrance.

There are other, not as exciting things that need to be done.

“The next project is the septic system,” said Groves, who came on board last fall. “Then a heating and air conditioning system, and then we need to finish out the barn.”

Once the education center is fully climate controlled and has internal walls installed, artifacts that are currently stored offsite will be brought to the new museum campus.

Of course it will all take money, which is another main task for Groves, a 2008 Monticello High School graduate who is a past executive director of Monticello Main Street. The museum has a start in that regard. A $50,000 donation and another for $10,000 – both from anonymous donors – can be used as seed money for more site improvements.

The year begins with membership renewals being sent out, a fundraising campaign set to begin, and a new website that went live in November.

“That’s been one of my main projects, the website,” said Groves.

The new site can be found at www.piattcountymuseum.org. It includes information on the building program, a list of museum board members, and current news regarding the organization. It also provides a link to a new museum email address, info@piattcountymuseum.org.

“It just shows the public that we are still here, we’re working on construction, that we’re doing things,” Groves said of the website. “That we have a website shows we are still active.”

Museum volunteers have also been using a vacant downtown storefront to display artifacts, the most recent sporting a Veterans Day theme.

Groves is the first paid administrative staff for the museum in about four years, and is made possible through a $75,000 grant from the Robert Milligan Trust. It includes $25,000 annually for three years.

Progress had been slowed because of a legal issue caused when the provider of material for the museum structure went bankrupt without paying its suppliers. Even though the Piatt County Museum organization had paid for the materials, since those dollars never filtered from the contractor to its suppliers, the museum was taken to court to provide the payment.

The final $10,200 of a $30,600 settlement was paid last year.

Groves earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield n December. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in public administration, also at UIS. She can be reached by email at info@piattcountymuseum.org or by calling 217-762-4731.

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