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Historical Society agrees to merger

History was made Tuesday night as the Clay County Historical Society agreed to nullify its constitution and merge with the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center.

History was made Tuesday night as the Clay County Historical Society agreed to nullify its constitution and merge with the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center.

The organization will be called the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.

About 40 members of the historical society voted on the measure, with 27 voting in favor of the motion. Fourteen individuals voted against, including Margaret Ristvedt, former president of the society.

"I've just been on the fringe of this, but I've heard a lot of negative comments about the merger," she told the group. "I would argue that this would be the end of CCHS."

That wasn't the intention of the proposal, said Darren Leno, president of the Historical Society.

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There would be one executive director and no staff cuts are expected, Leno said.

"Each of us want the best possible outcome for CCHS," he said. "I'm quite enthusiastic about the proposal myself."

The historical society maintains a museum and research archives at the Hjemkomst Center. Its goal is to collect, preserve and disseminate the history of Clay County.

The Interpretive Center's mission is to enlighten and inspire the public by interpreting the life, culture and heritage of the Red River Valley.

The merger would provide improved operational efficiency, resource development, visibility, and a stronger financial base, Leno said.

The Clay County Commission has included $25,000 in its 2009 budget to support the merger.

The Historical Society's rent for 2008 is $54,865 to the city of Moorhead. The Interpretive Center does not pay rent, according to an agreement with the city.

By merging, the city of Moorhead said they would be willing to offer a similar rent-free agreement to the organization, said Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland.

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"I see this as a positive," Voxland said. "This has to become an organization that is not Moorhead-centered, but Clay County-centered."

"This is an exciting possibility for a much brighter future," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kim Winnegge at (701) 241-5524

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