County historical director named

Lance Rudiger, left, St. Lawrence County Historical Association president, with Randy M. Merrill, Colton, who has been appointed to serve as the agency’s executive director. Contributed photo

CANTON — A Colton resident has been named executive director of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association.

Randy M. Merrill was selected from a pool of “several highly talented and experienced” candidates who applied for the job, said Lance Rudiger, president of the association’s board of directors.

Ms. Merrill been serving as interim director since Susan Longshore stepped down from the position in May.

“We are pleased to select a person who has a past association with the SLCHA and has a passion for growth that will lead us into a new vision for our organization,” Mr. Rudiger said in a prepared statement.

Her salary and benefits fall within the $38,500 to $45,000 range that was advertised, he said.

Ms. Merrill said she is looking forward to expanding the SLCA, which operates the Silas Wright House Museum at 3 E. Main St. The association also houses the county’s archives, including genealogy records.

“I’d like more educational programs and more exhibits. I think the archives are the star of our facility,” she said.

Under Ms. Merrill’s leadership, Mr. Rudiger said several changes have taken place, including expansion of the museum’s operating hours by two hours each day.

The parking lot was painted in partnership with the Canton Unitarian Universalist Church. Two new exhibits opened, one that displays furniture and one that shows spinning wheels. Also, and a Walk and Talk program started this summer that will run through the fall.

The museum’s upper hallway flooring was refinished and several grant applications were written. The Goldenaires singing group started monthly sing-a-longs on the back porch.

Ms. Merrill’s experience includes being in charge of public programs at Old Westbury Gardens, Long Island. She was also volunteer coordinator at the museum, where she managed 350 volunteers and worked in the archives.

She lived in the north country for about a decade in the 1990s before moving to Tennessee and returned to St. Lawrence County four years ago.

Ms. Merrill said she was happy to return to the area.

“I love the north country. Of all the places I’ve been, this is the best fit for me. And, I loved being at the SLCHA as a volunteer prior to moving to Tennessee. When I returned, I was lucky this position was available,” she said.

Mr. Rudiger said the new director has traveled to all 50 states and more than 15 countries. Her educational background is in journalism and anthropology.

While living in Texas, he said Ms. Merrill was a leader in helping save the historical architecture of Bryan, Texas. As vice president and president of the Brazos Heritage Society, she gained recognition for successfully leading a campaign to build a $200,000 park in Bryan’s Historical District and in preserving the city’s history.

Ms. Merrill said she’s motivated to expand an organization that has a solid history of providing north country residents a place to learn and do research.

Tracy Robertson is serving as interim assistant director. The archives are being managed by Mary Ellen Jones, a volunteer.

“We expect to fill a full time position in the next two months and a third position is possible after that,” Mr. Rudiger said.

Upcoming programs include Music on the Back Porch with The Goldenaires, 7 p.m. Aug. 26. If inclement weather, the music will move inside. A History Hustle 5K walk/run is set for Sept. 21 at the Remington Recreational Trail, with online registration at SLCHA.org. The new exhibit, Spinning Wheels and Textile Tools runs through Nov. 15.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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