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Butler County Historical Society looks at plans for 2018 with new director

The Butler County Historical Society has big plans for 2018 and has started by naming a new director, Brian Smith, who says the organization is more relevant than ever in the digital age.

Smith, 50, who also teaches English at Ross High School, took over as director on Jan. 1 after serving on the board of directors for three years. He feels that connecting with the community will be a key component in keeping the non-profit going strong.

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“The exhibits, programming and artifacts we have are very relevant in 2018,” he explained. “But we want to keep it fresh and work to appeal to people from all age groups and do outreach in the community and the schools. We want to develop ideas and programs that appeal to those various age groups.”

BCHS is facing the same challenges as other non-profits in dealing with fiscal issues and keeping attendance at a reasonable level, according to Smith.

“Our budget is approximately $135,000, which is pretty small for all that we do,” he said. “Last year we reached over 7,500 individuals in attendance of events and visitors to the museum and our research facility. We had a pretty good 2017 and potentially can have a great 2018.”

BCHS has created a new education committee that will oversee developing projects with local schools and will also manage the Soldiers Sailors and Pioneers Monument museum in Hamilton.

“The Hamilton Community Foundation has agreed to pay for a curator for us to manage it,” Smith said. “We are looking to go to the schools to make presentations or have them come here. We are working on multigenerational programming to appeal to kids and their grandparents.”

The Native Americans in the Miami Valley exhibit and Supernatural Ghost Hunting event were popular, and Smith added that a program allowing kids to see what it was like in the 1800s was also well-attended.

“Kids got to see what type of chores they would have done back then and they also had a chance to make their own ice cream and butter,” he said.

He’s hoping that the community will continue to support the programming offered and even help the organization grow moving forward.

“We have people dropping off historical artifacts and other important items daily,” he said. “We are the stewards of that history. Without us and other groups, that history goes away.”

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