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Kentwood Committees & Boards
Historical Commission
Minutes for 01/13/2014

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January 13, 2014

Present: Gerry Noorman, Richard Cunningham, Esther Middlewood, Dave Van Dyke, Jean Deckert

Others Present:  Lisa Golder, Gerry DeMaagd
Approval of Minutes:
A motion was made by Gerry Noorman with support from Dick Cunningham to approve the November 2013 Historic Preservation Commission minutes.
--Motion Carried, with Deckert abstaining
  1. Introduction of new member
Jean Deckert was introduced. Esther indicated that Bob Kline has resigned, as he was working on other projects and has been busy. He would still like to come to meetings and be an unofficial member of the Commission.Since he was the non-resident member of the HPC, Jackie Perrin-Moore has indicated that she would be interested in serving again.She will get her application in to the mayor for appointment, and should be back next month.Another newly appointed member indicated that after looking through the materials sent regarding the commission, she is no longer interested in serving.So even after Jean’s appointment, there is still one more opening on the Commission for another member.
  1. Heritage Room Update
Gerry said during some of the bad weather she was not in the Heritage Room as much, but since then has put in more than 30 hours a week.She said she has had a few visitors.Diane Muir (took pictures every day during the Kalamazoo reconstruction) indicated that she was not interested in giving away the pictures but was looking for ways to preserve the photos.
Someone wanted some information on the Alger Heights Toll Booth – he is working on a book regarding Division Avenue in this area.
There was discussion on the YWCA building that was apparently near the corner of 44th Street andEastern Avenue.This building was for a short period of time a branch of the YWCA.Then it became known as the Kentwood Little School and was used for children with disabilities.Working to find out more about it this structure. It was believed to be of log construction and there was a stone fence around the property. Remnants of the stone fence are still visible.
Gerry indicated that three school buses of children had come through the library on a tour.She wished she could have talked to a teacher to let them come in and see the Heritage Room, and would like to work on a sign that says “Local History Room” and “Visitors Welcome”.The city would have to determine if any additional permanent signs are permitted, but one on the Heritage Room window should not be a problem.It was agreed that the Commission needs to raise awareness of what is available in the Heritage Room.
Esther said that she had talked to Terry Schweitzer and indicated that if the city had a used computer that the HPC could use, that would be welcome, as the laptop we currently has is outdated.
  1. Women’s History Month
Esther asked the Women’s Club if they wanted to participate in the event for March 2014 and they declined, as they already have a speaker for March of this year.They may be interested in participating next year.The Women’s History event would involve the recognition of women that were important to Kentwood’s past.We would develop a booklet like we did with the cemetery walk, with information on each woman.It could range from pioneers to the area, such as Rachael Patterson, to more contemporary women such as Judith Wylie or Sharon Brinks.Possibly the Women’s Club may want to give an award to a contemporary woman, an “Outstanding Kentwood Woman of the Year”.The person could be involved in business, arts, politics, etc.We could have speakers during this time as well.The library would put relevant books on display for the month.
There was discussion on scheduling this for March of 2015.Esther said she would take the lead.After additional discussion,
Motion was made by Deckert, with support from Noorman, to explore the possibility of having a Women’s History Month event in March of 2015, with Middlewood to take the lead.
                                                                                                --Motion Carried--
  1. Oral History
There is no new oral histories being taken at this time.The process of taking an oral history was discussed.Jean said she may be interested in taking the oral histories but she has no background in doing this workEsther said that she could give Jean some guidelines and some training.Gerry indicated that it is really important to do this work so we can get the oral histories before the people pass away.Jean said she participated in a program offered by Calvin College in which students were taking oral histories.She was interviewed for this project and was glad she has the information to pass down to her children.Lisa said that Jean could go along to a few oral history interviews as they occur to get an idea of what is done.Esther said she could brief Jean on any issues or family connections that may come up in the interview.This is in part why a questionnaire is used before the actual interview.Jean said she would not be interested in doing the transcriptions.
  1. Cora’s Cookbook
Esther has transcribed the cookbook and is working on an issue with the pagination.The question is whether we want to give the cookbook away or sell it.After discussion it was decided that we would keep working on the book and get it ready for printing.
  1. Memberships:
Esther indicated that she has joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation and received their magazines; she is going to leave them in the Heritage Room.The Kentwood Historic Preservation Commission belongs to a Michigan Historic Preservation Organization.
Esther also belongs to an Oral History Association.This group offers training in taking oral histories and has a newsletter.She thinks that members may benefit from the information provided in the newsletter.She thought the fee was $15 per year.After discussion it was determined the HPC may benefit from this membership.
  1. Back to School Program idea
Esther said that she was interested in pursuing a “back to school” event to try and get groups of students that went to one room schoolhouses together for a reunion.This has been successful for the Smith School.They have had several reunions in the past.The event could be held at the community room at the library, with a table set up for each one room school house.Discussion ensued regarding the difficulty in getting lists of students since none of these schools (except Bowen School) exist anymore.Lisa suggested that we look at the high school alumni lists to see get graduates from the era that had these elementary schools. The students from the one room schoolhouses may have gone to high school at Godwin, Caledonia, or private school.Esther said the reunions can be a good resource for new oral history interviews.
After additional discussion, Esther indicated that she would like to see support from the Commission before she looked into this matter further.
A motion was made by Cunningham, with support from Noorman to continue work on the 2014 Back to School program which could potentially take place when school is back in session in fall of 2014.
--Motion Carried--
  1. Other Business
    1. Jerry DeMaagd indicated that he thought one way to make people aware of the Heritage Room and all the work that they Kentwood HPC is doing is to have programming that would be of interest to the community.  He has made presentations to the Rockford Historic Preservation Society and has attended events for the Rockford Preservation Society in which speakers were invited and there has been great interest in the event.  He said that you can get speakers are free and we have use of the Community Room at the Library.  Esther said that there is a difference between a preservation society and a historic Preservation Commission.  The Society has memberships and volunteers and they fund their activities through memberships.  The KHPC does not have this.  Jerry said that the speakers are free and that usually the newspapers will print an article if it is written up already. Esther said we had trouble getting the Advance to print anything regarding the cemetery walk.  We have had trouble getting people to show up to events, such as the fundraiser Master Arts Theatre play and the cemetery walk.  Lisa said that the HPC could try to have a speaker again, if Jerry were interested in pursuing this on behalf of the Commission.
  1.  50 Year Anniversary
We have discussed that we should do something for the anniversary, but Lisa wants for the Mayor to appoint a committee in which the HPC could play a role.The events would go beyond the work of the HPC and may involve community events, new events, the business community, and others. Jerry said that he is trying to find out the day that the city became a city, and has read in the history book that the city had its first city commission meeting in Bowen School. Jerry said the City Commission should meet in Bowen School on a Commission meeting day in 2017 to commemorate this event.
The next meeting of the Kentwood Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled for February 10, 2014 at 6:00 PM.
A motion was made by Cunningham with support from Noorman to adjourn.                   
                                                                                                                --Motion Carried—