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Co-presidents at Historical Society for 2014

       For the first time in its 30-plus years, the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) has co-presidents in 2014.
       In an interview, Betty Baker and Kathy McBride explained that neither wanted the job “full-time,” but decided they could take on the workload together, emphasizing their individual strengths. “We're giving it a whirl,” Betty said with a grin.
       One way they're splitting the duties is that Betty runs the board meetings while Kathy handles the computer work.
       Both were members of the previous year's board - Betty as vice president - under Sharon Swint, who stepped down in January after three years as president because of health issues. But Swint is keeping involved as the OCCHS' public relations person.

Dressed in old-time styles for the photo, Old Colorado City Historical Society co-Presidents Betty Baker (left) and Kathy McBride pose in front of a museum display inside the History Center.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The all-volunteer, nonprofit society owns and operates the Old Colorado City History Center at 1 S. 24th St. To the public, the facility offers a bookstore along with a museum providing a range of local-history displays and exhibits. Admittance is free, although there is a fee for non-members to attend presentations and other special events.
       During the winter months, the center is open Thursdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those hours will expand in the warmer months.
       A concern for all OCCHS presidents is keeping the society solvent. The main sources of income, other than random donations and occasional grants, are memberships, events/presentations and bookstore sales. But when unexpected issues arise - such as last August and September when heavy rains damaged the building foundation and forced the cancellation of the fundraising Cemetery Crawl - society members have to brainstorm.
       “We're looking for new ways to get revenue,” Betty commented. “We're in the black this year, but barely.”
       In the mix for 2014 are new ways to attract more tourists to the center, possibly with added events making use of the building's outdoor patio. Visitors can expect to see more frequent changes in displays using the center's collection of local memorabilia and documents. Territory Days will include an OCCHS reenactment (outside the historic Bancroft cabin) of the contentious 1913 vote that turned formerly rowdy Colorado City into a “dry” town. The society will also continue to bring in knowledgeable speakers and present an encore of last summer's “Tuesday Nights in July” series that featured classic older films.
       The co-presidents are also committed to boosting society membership, though not just for revenue enhancement. Orientation opportunities will be offered to new members who are interested in the actual running of the center, Betty and Kathy pointed out. Currently, out of about 320 members, an estimated 50 can be called on to volunteer time, but there's always a concern about burn-out.
       As retired professionals, the new leadership duo typify many of the society's active members. Kathy, a Colorado native, taught at Holmes Middle School, becoming an OCCHS member after retiring in 2006. At Holmes, she specialized in history, but in her 30 years there “I taught everything,” she noted.
       Betty, a former insurance underwriter whose family moved to Colorado Springs in 1949, has been with the society since 1992 - five years before the History Center even opened. “I was on the ground floor here,” Betty said. “So this place has become very dear to me.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/31/14)