Historical society holds first general meeting

President of the Kern River Valley Historical Society, John Newman

Photo and Story by Catherine Stachowiak 

The Kern River Valley Historical Society (KRVHS) held its first General Meeting of the year, Tuesday April 23, at the Senior Center, which the President John Newman opened.

“This is the very first general meeting for 2024,” he said. “In November we elected new officers and then swore them in at our Christmas party.”  He thanked Noreen Bernier the KRVHS’s social director.

He thanked Melody Bateman their membership chair for her work on behalf of the society. 

Newman pointed out that the museum has no paid staff.  Volunteers do all the work within the KRVHS and the Kern Valley Museum and the board makes all the decisions. 

Becoming a member of the KRVHS only costs $30.  The museum needs sponsors, which Gene Verbeet is the contact for.

In January the KRVHS finance committee, which Gene Verbeet heads, put together the museum budget. Newman explained that the Kern Valley Museum never borrows money and relies on grants and donations.   

“Our museum does not stay stagnant,” Newman said. “Why?  Because we have the best curator in the state.”  

This year the government changed regulations regarding how museums treat Native American artifacts.  As a result the museum has improved its database and communication between the museum and native American tribes locally and has improved its relationship with other museums. 

Hal Chiprin has been heavily involved with the historical society and its fieldtrips, “I appreciate all the work you put in,” Newman said. 

Will Box has helped the museum with a new website, email addresses, online donation processes and training for volunteers. 

Irene Randolph helped the KRVHS find vintage insurance coverage, and therefore the museum was finally able to use its Graham Truck again, which symbolizes the museum, Newman said.

Thanks to Charlie Gregory the KRVHS members were able to attend field trips.  

The Kern Valley Museum and KRVHS History Days is coming up in May 18.  The KRVHS will be holding a talk on the Granite Basins in June.

Newman said thanks to Ron Anderson the society would be able to conduct the Tales on the Trails events, which are popular dramatizations of local people in history, each November. Anderson has also been holding movies under the stars for members.

The Annex would be printing more copies of its books about the dam and the lake, which helps with proceeds for the museum.  The museum also puts out a newsletter and educational classes for seniors and students.  The museum has 12,000 visitors per year. 

Below are names of the volunteers assisting the Kern Valley Museum, which Newman provided.  This list may be incomplete.

Officers: VP Museum Ron Benson, VP/Education Erie Johnson, Treasurer/Gift Shop Donni Higgins, Rec. Sec. Diane Zemliak, Corresp. Secretary Kathleen Creighton-Fuchs, Past President Linda Kubisiak.  Appointed Director: Curator Dianna Anderson.  Elected Directors: Asst. Archivist/ Finance Chair Gene Verbeet, Historian/Field Trips, Membership Chairman Melody Batelaan, Director Publicity Ron Anderson, Director/Gift Shop JoAnne Johnson, Director Don Chapman, Director Tom McKinney, Social Chair Norren Bernier, Media Chair Michael Matelaan, Director/Tech.Chair Harry Schustz, Docent Chair Marji Bothwell.  Chairpersons: Saddlebag Teri Verbeet, Docent Coordinator Luz Polcik, Docent Substitute Vicki Middleworth, Webmaster Will Box, History Talks Linda Adams, Active Volunteers Bob Serza, Hal Chiprin, Larry Holocaust, Michael Batelaan.