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Historical Society honors community efforts, names new board leaders


The Merced County Historical Society held their annual meeting last Sunday inside the Board of Supervisors chamber at the County Administration Building in Merced.

The packed event had people standing in the aisles as our local historians recapped the Society’s numerous successes over the past year. There was also an awards presentation, and a ceremony for the installation of Society officers for the upcoming year. They also talked about what’s in store for 2020, and what’s coming up in the form of exhibits at the Merced County Courthouse Museum.

It was announced that the Historical Society will pledge $50,000 toward a county renovation project for the Courthouse Museum. Despite funding from the county, the project is still in need of community donations, along with possible state and federal grants.

Coming up next at the museum will be the exhibit “Beyond Appearance: Portraits of Merced County Women, from March 12 to June 14. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that enfranchised American women. This exhibit, by studying the portraits of women from the Victorian Era to 1920, aims to look beyond the appearance of these individuals to learn the stories of their daily struggles that helped to contribute to greater gender, social, and political equality. Forty pioneer women from Merced County will be featured in the exhibit.

During Sunday’s annual meeting, the Honorable Judge Ronald Hanson swore in the following new members of the Society’s Board of Directors: Kathy Brady of Dos Palos, John Carlos of Merced, Chet Downey of Los Banos, Joyce Mattos of Snelling, Chris Tomford of Merced, and Bob Souza of Merced.

New officers included: Patti Kishi sworn in as Secretary, Grey Roberts as Treasurer, Mike Bik as Vice President, Carlene Cunningham as President Elect, and Julie Marchini as President.

To cap off the afternoon program, journalist and author Steve Newvine gave a keynote speech about his body of work in the local community. Newvine spoke about his transition from a East Coast resident and broadcast journalist to becoming a West Coast author and columnist.

Following the event, Newvine was on hand to sign copies of his books. Residents were also invited to take a closer look and listen to the sounds of a working Edison record player as they enjoyed refreshments and conversations with Newvine, and others in attendance.

Rossotti Capital Improvement Grant:
  • Merced Women’s Club for the Clubhouse Re-roofing Project
  • Atwater Historical Society/Bloss Home Museum for Museum Collection Management Project
  • Dos Palos Historical Society for Museum Collection Management Project
  • Gustine Historical Society for Museum Collection Management Project
  • Hilmar/Irwin/Stevinson Historical Society for Museum Collection Management Project
  • Milliken Museum Society for Museum Collection Management Project
2020 Estep-Burchell Community Grant:
  • Dos Palos Historical Society for the Historic Photo Digitalization Project
2019 Letus Wallace Award:
  • Gustine Historical Society for its contribution to the exhibition of the centennial history of Our Lady of Miracles Church
2019 Heacox Pioneer History Award:
  • Tom Gaffery for his research assistance in museum exhibits
2019 Docent of the Year Award:
  • Joyce Hambley for her dedication and outstanding service to the Courthouse Museum Gift Shop.
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