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EOT museum marks 10 years; lease OK'd by city

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The History of Museum of East Otter Tail County is in its tenth year, housed in a historic, stone-built Episcopal church.

And with that decade milestone, it was time to renew the lease of the structure with the Perham City Council.

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The council approved the lease, which is largely a formality, by unanimous vote.

"Since opening in June of 1998, the museum has received recognition for the quality of its exhibits and the significance of the resources it has created," said museum director Lina Belar at the June 9 council meeting. "We were the first small history museum to make our historical resources available on the web and we are still leaders in the development of on-line resources."

Historical materials compiled on the museum's website include historical photographs, Otter Tail history books, and an index to newspapers that span the history of East Otter Tail. And all of these can be searched online.

A family from the western U.S. discovered family history information at the museum website, and specifically planned a trip to Perham for further research, noted Belar.

"So, it also helps promote tourism," she added.

In 2006, the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County, in conjunction with VFW Post 4020, opened a veterans museum "In Their Own Words."

The museum is continuing to record interviews with area veterans, and a total of 180 have been completed to date.

The museum received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education last year. The pilot project is with five area schools, where students will learn to produce audio-video documentaries of veterans and others with war-related experiences from their own communities.

Plans for 2008 at the museums include:

---Creating opportunities for other small communities to put public histories on the web, through a new initiative called mytownhistory.org.

---Expanding access to online records and photos.

---Sponsoring group tours.

---Creating new exhibits, and booking more traveling exhibits.

---Completing exterior renovations of the ITOW Veterans Museum.

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