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Surry County, Virginia, Historical Society and Museums, Inc.
P. O. Box 262, Surry, VA 23883   Phone (757) 294-0404
E-mail address: surryhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.
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President's Report - Monday, May 20, 2002

Welcome to our fourth Annual Meeting. Yes, we are four years old, and what a four years it has been. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that so many opportunities would come our way.

Rogers Store was the first. We now own it and I expect we will go to contract within the next two weeks for close to $50,000.00 of repairs. I expect to have at least two bids on the work. The State of Virginia has stated that the money is available for disbursement. I plan to insure that we make no commitment that the State of Virginia will not honor.

Our collection of Surry County records and artifacts also far exceeds our expectations. New information and records come in weekly. We expect soon to be given a Surry Civil War soldier's discharge papers, Mary Mcgill's 1888 History of Virginia and a 1766 King James Bible, printed by His Majesties printer, Alexander Kincaid. Much information has been lent to us and copied. We purchased a new copier six or eight months ago. We have made nearly 10,000 copies on the machine to date. Filing and indexing continues to fall behind.

The activity at the Society on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when we are open, continues to amaze me. It is great, but leaves little time for filing and organizing. We have not done a good job on this.

Helping visitors has helped the Society with membership and money. We try to help everyone at no cost except for copies. Many join the Society or give us a donation. While many Societies charge for these services, I think we get as much income, and make more friends doing it our way. I must thank Dennis Hudgins for his unbelievable help in this area.

As you likely have heard, Surry County is working on expanding the Courthouse, which is likely to take our office and the other buildings behind the Courthouse. Supposedly we will know more in the next sixty days. Frankly, at this time, we do not know what will happen, or when. If this happens, any scenario will likely involve a move to temporary quarters.

If this happens, the Society hopes to have Surry County move the three historical buildings behind the Courthouse to our lot which was given the Society over a year ago. Here they can continue to serve a public purpose, and ours is the closest empty property to the Courthouse. In preparation, the Society has insured that our zoning is proper for our use and purpose as a Historical Society and Tourism Center. We have made a new plat of the property. We have a copy on the table here tonight for you to see.

These three buildings are the Old Jail, ca. 1908, where we now have our offices, The Academy, ca. 1840s, and the Commissioner of Revenue's office, ca. late 1800s. All are included in the Historical District of Courthouse Square.

Before proceeding very far, we must prepare a master plan of where we want to go. Discussed by our board are Society offices and archives, meeting room, museum with displays of all of Surry County's historical assets, Tourism Bureau offices and Chamber of Commerce offices. This would become a "First Stop" for tourist and visitors to Surry County.

Obviously the Society does not have the funds to refurbish and remodel these buildings. Electrical and phone service, bathrooms, water and sewer connections, parking, heat and air conditioning will be just a few of the immediate needs.

If this happens, it will bring up the need for immediate and broad fund raising programs. Not knowing what will happen, we have not made a budget at this time. Do not be surprised if we come asking for money!

Another major need will be upon us very soon. 2007 is coming fast, and Surry County has never seen the tourist load that will be coming to partake of the celebration of the founding of our country. As part of this celebration, we can expect numbers of tourist never seen before. An office to sell tickets, bathrooms for many busloads of tourist, perhaps parking for hundreds of cars, with a shuttle service to Jamestown will be needed. The logistics will be mind boggling.

At last count we have 23 signed up for the Surry to Surrey trip. It is a go!

I must thank our Board of Directors and officers for their great support and help. Eve Gregory has given us unbelievable service in creating and keeping up to date our world class web site. Dennis Hudgins has done so much for us, transcribed so many records, helped certainly hundreds of visitors and created excitement with everything he has done.

So, as my term as president winds down, I want to thank you for your great support. Let me assure you that I will continue to work hard for the society. I am probably best on project oriented work. I hope to be able to work to get Rogers Store fixed up and opened. If we have to move, I will be available to do what I can to help.

In the words immortalized on 9/11/01, LETS ROLL! Surry County deserves no less. Thank you.

[Jim Atkins, President]


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