Lakeshore Museum Center to Reduce Number of Board Members

Andrew Trzaska | November 11, 2013

The body that oversees the Hackley and Hume Houses, Muskegon’s main county museum, and other local historic sites will reduce the size of its Board of Trustees nearly in half over the next three years.

The Lakeshore Museum Center (LMC) has been in existence since 1937, and receives funding from Muskegon County in the form of millages. It currently has a board consisting of 21 people elected by the members of the museum, plus three county-appointed representatives for a total of 24.

Today, the county board of commissioners voted to allow the LMC to reduce its Board of Trustees from 24 to “no more than 15 and no less than 12.”

In a letter submitted to the commission, Lakeshore Museum Center CEO John McGarry said that the idea came out of a strategic planning retreat in 2012.

McGarry said that it would lead to better participation among those on the board.

“This would allow board members to become more active and engaged, and help the CEO of the Museum to keep Board Members better informed.”

The board of the museum has approved the bylaw changes needed to execute the change. However, those bylaws state that the County Commission must approve the change as well.

On a question from commissioner Charles Nash, McGarry clarified at Tuesday’s full commission meeting that the LMC works hard to make its board as representative of the county’s population as possible.

“While we don’t have a particular spot [for specific backgrounds], we work hard to shape the makeup of the board reflect that of the community,” said McGarry, including a male-female balance as well as professional and ethnic distribution.

No people will be removed from the board. Instead, as terms expire over the next three years, those seats will not be filled.

The County Commission currently appoints 3 of the 24 members of the LMC board, and has done so for 23 years. This would remain the same after the overall board size shrinks.

The Lakeshore Museum maintains and operates the Hackley & Hume historic site, Fire Barn museum, Scolnik House of the Depression Era, and the main Lakeshore Museum Center facility, formerly referred to as the “Muskegon County Museum”, all located in Muskegon.  All sites are free to the public except for the Hackley & Hume sites, which cost $5 for tours.

The museum will also oversee Michigan’s Heritage Park, also known as Hilt’s Landing. Set to open in 2015, the park on the north end of Muskegon County will allow people to “experience firsthand ten thousand years of Michigan’s history.” Funding for Hilt’s Landing was wholly raised privately, and mostly achieved by the work of McGarry, according to commissioner Bob Scolnik.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst