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Search committee finds possible new museum director

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SPENCER — A member of the search committee looking for a new executive director for the N.C. Transportation Museum says he believes they’ve found someone who can lead the museum through the challenging transition to self-sufficiency.
The committee will introduce the finalist Jan. 11 to staff and volunteers at the museum in Spencer, said Roy Johnson, president of a nonprofit foundation that supports the museum.
“We want to get some feedback and let people ask questions, any questions,” Johnson said. “We really want to get this one right.”
Former Executive Director Elizabeth Smith retired Nov. 30, the day before the museum announced four layoffs.
Her replacement will face the museum’s most trying time. Previously free, the museum started charging admission in July after the state cut its funding in half to $576,000.
Since then, attendance has plummeted by 25 percent.
In response to the state budget crisis, the museum cut a third of its staff and will operate next year with 11 full-time employees, down from 18.
The state intends to cut all funding to the museum next year, although advocates say they hope that won’t happen.
After a nationwide search for the museum director, the committee including Johnson and Keith Hardison, director of the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites, narrowed the field to six candidates.
The committee voted unanimously on one candidate to meet the staff and volunteers, Johnson said.
Hardison said he hopes to have the new executive director in place by Feb. 1.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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