Lacey sets a high bar in protecting local history

July 18th, 2016 by Ken

The City of Lacey, it’s administration and staff, should be congratulated for allocating nearly a million dollars to preserve, protect and promote the city’s history.   It was a bold move designed to show that the past is a significant element of this forward-looking city.

For decades, Lacey has been in the forefront of local cities in protecting its history.   It has the only history museum in Thurston County which is opened on a regular and consistent basis.   It has full time staff devoted to preserving the city’s history and it continues to see the past as important to the future.

The fact that the City of Lacey is currently celebrating its 50th birthday as an incorporated city just adds to the significance of the financial investment.

Not all cities deem history as an important function of government.   Many cities have relegated their city’s history to the back porch.   Olympia most immediately comes to mind.   I’ve often wonder why Olympia hasn’t done much to protect its history.  I know the city has a long and fascinating history.   I see it every day when I give my historical tours.   But, as time moves on, those elements which gives the city its rich history, are lost.

The City of Lacey has moved to protect its history for many reasons.   It had an active and involved group of local residents who saw the importance of protecting the history of this relatively new city and they did so by saving the city’s first city hall.   Local service clubs, most significantly, the Sunrise Lions Club and the Lacey Rotary Club used the opportunity to save, move and protect the city hall.   Then they raised the necessary funds to renovate and create the city’s museum.  This set the bar for the city’s involvement in protecting its history.   It allocated funds for a historian to oversee and operate the museum.

But, most recently, during this 50th anniversary celebration, it was city staff and city officials who moved forward with further investment in the city’s history.   Most notably were Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder and Lacey City Manager Scott Spence, with assistance from the city council.

I estimate that only about 20 percent of the people really care about history.   Lacey is fortunate to have many members of that 20 percent in city leadership positions.

Perhaps this movement in using the past to promote the future will catch on.   Perhaps Olympia officials will see the benefit of history and move to protect its own historical items – – most of which have now moved to Tacoma and the Washington State Historical Society.

It’s first step would be to elect leaders who understand and appreciate the city’s history.   The next step would be to find or construct a building which would hold the city’s archives.   Then, they could ask Tacoma to return all historical items of importance to the City of Olympia.

And, finally, they could look to Lacey for guidance in how to build its own museum.

Posted in Government, History, The Real News

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