After almost two years without a full-time chief administrator, the Bartholomew County Historical Society is preparing to hire a new executive director by the end of the year.

The position became vacant 21 months ago when the organization lost two of its top staff members.

Former executive director Julie Hughes left in November 2015 to attend graduate school. At the same time, the society’s education manager, Anna Barnett, accepted a position with the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis.

“We’ve taken our time to evaluate our needs, but we are now ready pull the trigger and make it happen,” said Jason Hatton, the historical society board president.

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A few months after the vacancies occurred, the historical society board hired retired business executive Tom Brosey as interim director. But it didn’t figure the appointment would be longer than six months, former board president Tamara Iorio said at the time of Brosey, who also works part-time at the Foundation for Youth and is co-founder of the Mission Management organization.

While praising the interim director for his handling of policy and finances, “Tom has never expressed interest in staying permanently, and has probably stuck around much longer than he wanted to,” Hatton said.

Hatton said museum manager Cody Harbaugh and education director Adam Rediker will be encouraged to stay on after the new executive director is hired, Hatton said.

In its search, which began in late August, the historical society is seeking a community-oriented person with a strong background in relationship building for the top administrative position, he said.

The 96-year-old organization also has reached out to Ball State University, Indiana University and the Indiana Historical Society for candidate leads, Hatton said.

Applications will be accepted through Sept. 11, and interviews likely will begin the first part of October, he said. The historical society hopes to announce the new executive director in November, and have that person in place by the end of the year, he said.

Although the full-time director’s position has been open for almost two years, ambitious plans developed for the organization have been on hold even longer.

In an effort to improve visibility and patronage, the historical society announced plans in December 2014 to move its museum and headquarters to the former Brad’s Furniture Gallery at 538 Washington St. after it was purchased for $450,000.

Soon after, the historical society began down a path to invest $1.8 million for a new headquarters and museum over a three- to five-year period and hired a consultant to help develop those plans. But after Hughes and Barnett left the organization, those plans — which include interactive, durable and age-appropriate exhibits — were set aside, Hatton said.

“The board has a great vision and purpose (with those plans),” Hatton said. “We hope the next director will help us reevaluate them as we go into the future.”

Historical society key dates

1921 – The Bartholomew County Historical Society is created.

1973 – The historical society moves out of the Bartholomew County Courthouse into the McEwen-Samuels-Marr House. The building at 524 Third St. has 3,500 square feet of space to house exhibits and offices.

1982 – Due to space needs, a growing number of artifacts are moved to the society’s Henry Breeding Farm, the United Way building and other areas.

2014 – The former Brad’s Furniture Gallery at 538 Washington St. is purchased. The society announces plans to start a capital campaign to raise $1.8 million for its new headquarters and museum.

2015 – Both executive director Julie Hughes and education manager Anna Barnett resign in November. Capital campaign plans are placed on hold.

2016 – Retired businessman Tom Brosey hired as part-time interim director in February. The historical society operates with two employees, museum manager Cody Harbaugh and education director Adam Rediker.

2017 – The historical society announces in August plan to hire a new full-time executive director by the end of the year.

Reeves Festival: Powering the Past

The Bartholomew County Historical Society will host the ninth annual Reeves Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Henry Breeding Farm, 13730 N. County Road 100W, Edinburgh.

Activities: Steam engine rides, blacksmithing demonstrations, corn shelling and grinding, Henry Breeding home tours, petting zoo, food sampling and garden tours, music by the Banister Family Bluegress Band.

Food, drink: Hog roast with side dishes, ice pops, beer and wine

Cost: $10 for historical society members; $12 for non-member adults; $5 for children ages 3 to 12 free for children younger than 3. Tickets available at the door or in advance at the Bartholomew County History Center, 524 Third St.

Information: 812-372-3541

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.