(Shaun Friedrichsen, Publisher)
The Jefferson County Historical Society is unsure how to proceed with advertising for the upcoming tractor show in Steele City.
At their meeting on Tuesday evening at the Diller Bank Museum, the society discussed the options the group has for promoting the event. The society’s curator, Denise Andersen, explained that Dennis Kenning was working to raise money for promoting the tractor show.
“He [Kenning] stated at the last meeting that he was going to take care of all the advertising and printing of fliers, etc.,” said Andersen. “And he was going to raise the money for doing so by selling some promotional ads, and then putting that into a separate account. Not our account, a separate account, with a third person collecting it. And then they would make up all the advertising and fliers, and, and just taking care of it so that we would not have to.
“Unfortunately,” Andersen continued, “with the review [from the State Auditor’s Office], the auditor says we can’t do that; that that money has to go through our treasury, has to be collected, if it’s on behalf of the historical society, it has to be collected on behalf of the historical society, and the expenditures have to go out from the historical society.”
At the Jefferson County Commissioners meeting earlier that day, Kenning confirmed that he was raising money for the tractor show that takes place during the Steele City Flea Market.
“I sold promotional advertising,” said Kenning. “When I sold the promotional advertising, I told very clearly that I am not part of the historical society, do not claim to be, and the money would not go towards them. We’ve actually had donors that stepped up, they started this process because they said, point blank to us, ‘we don’t want funds going in the historical society because we’ll never see them.’”
Kenning continued by explaining that those who purchased advertisements would be listed around the border of the fliers and that they would be recognized during the flea market. He stated that he was contacted by the State Auditor and told that he needs to collect that money through an entity.
“So, I want you to know that’s what’s happened and taken place, and I will fully comply with what the State Auditor asks from me,” Kenning said.
During the meeting on Tuesday evening, Andersen explained that she was informed by the auditor that the historical society is “liable for all published literature,” and that it has to be approved by the board.
“So it looks like to me that we have two options here, since this is the route he said he was taking,” said Andersen. “One is to take all reference to the historical society off of all the posters and advertising, which means taking off all of our events for Steele City Flea Market; removing all of the flea market, the tractor show, the tractor pull and the historic demonstrations, etc. Or, we drop all the events and let Dennis be in charge of the entire thing, so that we don’t have any conflict there with advertising and literature that has our name on it, that has not gone through this board.”
Board Member Phyllis McCown asked Andersen to show her the documentation of the discussion with the State Auditor about this issue. Andersen dug through her bag and produced a copy of the email sent by the auditor, proceeding to read it to the board members and the approximately 19 people in attendance.
Secretary RoseAnne Zach asked about dropping the events from the historical society altogether, and Andersen reiterated that it was an option and that it would then be up to the Village of Steele City to manage the events. Board Member John Howell stated that another option would be for the board to approve Kenning’s action so that they can “come to an agreement.” McCown stated that she would reach out to Kenning to talk about the issue.
After a question about how advertising was handled last year, Andersen stated that in the past the fliers had been printed at McBattas, but could not remember the cost of the printing. At the suggestion of Megan Sothan, the board discussed the possibility of having a special meeting later this month to determine the future of the event.
Andersen explained that she needs to start sending out fliers and that she will likely begin producing them on the society’s printer.
“Quite frankly, I’ve kind of been through the ringer the last week or so,” said Andersen, “and I am unwilling to bend the rules that are laid down by the auditor at all. […] I really appreciate the forethought he had to do something like that, and too his enthusiasm for getting it done. Maybe last year this wouldn’t have been such a problem, but it is this year, because, auditor.”
The Jefferson County Historical Society will have a special meeting in two weeks, although no exact date was chosen, to discuss how to handle the issue of advertising and to decide the future of the tractor show and flea market.