December 10, 2008
An Open Letter to the Residents of Helper and Carbon County.
As many of you now know, I have been forced to resign my position as Director of the Western Mining & Railroad Museum. While this causes me much sadness, I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you for all of your support and kindness over the past 6 and a half years.
During my time as Museum Director, I have had a wonderful opportunity to accomplish many things that I feel have propelled the Museum to national and international recognition.
I have had the pleasure of serving on the Museum's Building Expansion Committee and along with the members of that committee under the direction of and with the direct help of the very talented PJ Jensen, have raised over $1 million dollars of grant money for the proposed Museum Expansion Project. If this valuable project is allowed to continue under the direction of Councilman Kirk Mascaro, the construction of this expansion should begin in April of 2009.
In addition to the money raised for the Museum Expansion Project, I successfully raised over $100,000 in grant money for museum operations, exhibit projects and special events and lectures and also secured the Museum as a Regional Repository of the Utah State Archives allowing local residents access to documents and archives traditionally only available at the State Archives facility in Salt Lake City.
I also had the opportunity to win the distinct True West Top 10 True West Town award for Helper for two consecutive years, Number 10 in 2006 and Number 1 in 2007. Helper won this award over wonderful towns such as Sheridan, Wyoming, Deadwood, South Dakota, Juneau, Alaska and Tombstone, Arizona and I am proud to have been a part of that and to host True West editor and celebrity Bob Boze Bell in Helper in 2007.
I was also able to author two books on the history of Eastern Utah, Rails around Helper and the Coal Camps of Eastern Utah with national publisher Arcadia Publishing. These two projects could not have been completed without the support of the Museum's wonderful Board of Directors and for that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
While sadly, the volunteer staff, many of the Board of Directors and the Assistant Director of the Museum have also chosen to resign their positions at this time, it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life to work with such a remarkable and dedicated group of people. Your passion and knowledge continue to amaze and inspire me.
Finally, I would like to thank the residents of Eastern Utah, both current and past, and the thousands of visitors that have stopped at the Museum over the past six years, who continue to support the museum through donations, gift shop sales and by participating in special events. It has been my pleasure to get to know you, to learn your stories and to hear your comments. I look forward to continuing my relationship with you in my future projects and endeavors of which there will be many.
While I don't know what the future holds for the Western Mining & Railroad Museum, I encourage you to still offer your support to the Museum, it's mission and for its continued growth. I also encourage you to call Helper City, the Mayor and any Helper City Council member to let them know how much you care about the Museum and to weigh in on your desires for the future of the Museum. I welcome your questions and comments and can be reached at the email address below.
Again, thank you for your support, encouragement and kindness during my time as Museum Director. I look forward to working with and serving the communities of Eastern Utah in the future.
-- SueAnn Martell