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Jefferson County Historical Society hopes to end year in the black

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Jefferson County Historical Society Executive Director William G. Wood hopes to see black ink by year’s end.

Mr. Wood said he is cautiously hopeful that the agency’s books will close above the profit line for the first time in several years.

“The final major fundraiser for the year is always our annual appeal,” he said. “That’ll come out late October, and will bring us over the finish line.”

Ramping up programs and activities to promote the Historical Society, 228 Washington St., has been a main focus of the agency, which seeks to boost return visits. Mr. Wood said the other piece of that is finding more sponsors and donors.

“We’ve had an increase in membership and attendance at events,” he said. “We’ve also had an increase in business membership, and there was the success of the Historical Society 500.”

Most recently, the museum received a $40,000 bequest from Elsa F. Grant, a former Watertown City School District teacher who died Dec. 16. If needed, Mr. Wood said, the agency could lean on that money, but he’d prefer not to use it immediately for operational expenses.

“That way, we could say we earned our way this year, and it wasn’t just a lucky break,” he said.

From January to August 2011, the agency was operating at a $14,800 loss, but from January to August 2012, it posted a net profit of $12,600. Much of the $27,400 jump was attributed to the success of the Historical Society 500. Mr. Wood said that success would not have been possible without support from community members and businesses.

The Historical Society staff and board members also looked within the agency to see where cuts could be made to the already-thin agency. From January to August 2011, there was an $18,000 reduction in expenses, compared with the same time frame this year.

“We approached this from all sides,” Mr. Wood said. “What we need to do going forward is doing more of what we’re doing now. It’ll be challenging. The answer’s not to stop. We’ve got to continue to reach out to more and more people.”

That is what the Historical Society will aim to do with some upcoming events. At noon Saturday, the agency will host its annual fashion show luncheon, which will have an “Arts in the Museum” theme. Models will wear fall and winter clothing from Bev & Co., and the event also will showcase landscape art from the museum’s collection and modern landscapes from Lynette A. Bucci.

Today is the last day to preregister for Saturday’s event. The cost is $30 for members or $35 for non-members.

Another upcoming event is the inaugural Harvest Celebration, scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at the Paddock Mansion. The event will feature crafts, trick-or-treating and the telling of scary stories.

Preregistration is requested by Wednesday. Admission is $10 per family or $6 per person, with discounts available for military members and senior citizens.

For more information, or to preregister for an event, call the agency at 782-3491.

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