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Polk County Historical Society President David Moellenberndt, left, presents awards to volunteers who support the museum.


RICKREALL — The Polk County Museum turned 20 in October, and it celebrated its birthday year with changes and new events, including a new volunteer recruitment process.

Sonja Ely, the Polk County Historical Society’s secretary, said the museum is always in search of people willing to help out.

“As I tell people who come in, everything in here is over 50 years old, including the volunteers,” Ely said during the PCHS annual meeting on Saturday. “Some of us are way past that. We are always looking for people.”

She said the new process will allow for a longer introduction to volunteer service and find those willing to help a job that matches their interest.

“What we have done in the past is if you walked through the door and say, ‘I want to volunteer,’ man you were on board and doing something that day,” Ely said. “We are going to take it a little easier on people, so we have redone our application form. We have a two-step process.”

The new process begins with orientation. Ely is on duty at the museum on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and can train volunteers then.

“Anyone who is interested in volunteering can come out and see what we do here and see what goes on, and what we are going to be asking of them,” Ely said. “The second stage is being introduced to the person who matches the interest you have, so we can place you in the right place, so you are going to like what you do.”

She said volunteers can spend just a few hours a month at the museum, or more.

“We are happy if you are happy,” Ely said. “We would love to have anybody who has time to volunteer with us, whether it’s a Saturday or a weekday, or whether they want to do something specific or don’t know what they want to do yet. We can help you find that.”

Ely started volunteering at the museum in 2000, and hopes to find people who want to make a similar commitment.

“The goal is to make happy volunteers feel like they are part of a family. I have to tell you, that’s what keeps me here. This really does feel like a family here,” she said. “If you know of anybody who is looking for that something to do, we’re something good to do.”

Before Ely’s pitch for new volunteers, PCHS president David Moellenberndt presented awards to honor the contribution of a few current volunteers, businesses and organizations that supported the museum this year.

Van Well Building Supply, Dallas School District Print Shop, and board member Ann Gage, among others, were recognized.

Van Well received the James K. Polk Award, “given to a business who has been of assistance to the Polk County Historical Society.” The Dallas business donated the lumber needed to build a deck at the Brunk Farmstead off of Highway 22 near Salem. The museum operates the house and farmstead as a museum and educational center.

The Dallas School District Print Shop was presented the Luckiamute Award, “given in appreciation of an organization to acknowledge its contribution to the Polk County Historical Society.”

The print shop took over production of the museum’s flyers, brochures and other print materials in 2019. Print shop manager Debbie McCleery accepted the award.

“I really appreciate what you have done for us,” Moellenberndt said. “You’ve revolutionized our publications.”

Brunk Farmstead co-manager Ann Gage received the Jo Ann King Brunk Farmstead Award, which is named after the former farmstead manager who died in December.

“This award is given in appreciation of one whose extraordinary efforts for preservation of the facility and children’s program will benefit the Polk County Historical Society for years to come,” Moellenberndt said.

Moellenberndt, Ely, Gage, Jerry Murphy and Sue Robinson were re-elected to two-year terms on the board, and museum’s 2020 schedule was introduced at Saturday’s meeting.

Polk County Museum in 2020

Feb. 15 — Buster Keaton 1926 film, “The General.”

Part of the silent movie was filmed in Oregon and the train engines were modified in Dallas are Gerlinger Carrier in Dallas. Presentation by Jim Scheppke, retired Oregon State Librarian.

March 21 — Annual Family Day at the Museum, free

April 18 — Blossom Run at the Brunk Farmstead, classic car show and free house tours

April 18 — Mill Creek Lumber Flume, presented by John Cruickshank on the history Sheridan Lumber Co.

May 2 — Mother’s Day Tea, full-course tea. Reservations required

May 16 — Native American Harvest, Siletz Tribal Elder Bud Lane

June 20 — Abigail Scott Duniway, a women’s rights advocate, presented by Rachel Greco, a local historian and owner of Grandma’s Attic in Dallas.

July 18 — Remembering Valsetz, a presentation of memories and photos with people who lived or had experience in the town.

Aug. 22 — Annual Porch Sale Fundraiser

Sept. 26 — Family Apple Fest at the Brunk Farmstead – freshly pressed apple cider, tours and other activities.

Oct. 9 — Harvest Supper. It’s a new event at the museum that requires reservations. Information on cost and reservations to come at a later date.

Oct. 17 — Thompson’s Mill State Park in Shedd, Oregon, presented by Jim Ballard.

Nov. 14 — History of Camp Adair and its impact on Polk County.

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