Historical Society holds 49th annual banquet

The Historical Society of St. Marys and Benzinger Township held its 49th annual banquet on Sunday evening at the Diamond View Restaurant to commemorate the founding of Sancta Marienstadt on Dec. 8, 1842. President and Emcee Bill Conrad opened the evening's program by asking attendees to observe a moment of silence for two recently departed board members, Jim Auman and Andrew Kaul. "I'm not sure when Jim Auman became a director, but he's been a director as long as I can remember. We all know and love Jim dearly, recall Jim' s enthusiasm and his commitment to this society and all the work he did to make it the society it is today," Conrad said. "Andy Kaul joined the board of directors several years ago and played an integral role in a variety of committees, and his big passion was the lecture series. Andy could always be counted on to pitch in and do whatever was needed, whether it was working on the investment committee or working on the committee that put together the lecture series."Regarding the state of the historical society, Conrad remarked that a newsletter that was recently received by members detailed a lot of their recent activities and therefore he decided to forgo discussing those endeavors. Instead, Conrad focused on providing a "financial synopsis" of the society. "I think it's important that we all understand and appreciate how important and significant the Meisel bequest was several years ago," Conrad said.Conrad indicated that several years ago, the society received around $978,000 from the Meisel family and invested the funds so that they could provide the greatest benefit to the organization. "We draw down [from the bank] every year an amount of money that allows us to do special projects. When we moved into the new rooms, we needed to do an awful lot of restoration and we needed to do an awful lot of work in our museum area. We've had to do a lot of just housekeeping as far as that building is concerned. But we've also initiated a lot of new projects. As a result, we draw down anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 a year, which is dollars we need to operate the society," Conrad said. He added that the historical society typically operates on an annual budget of around $60,000. "So we have to draw down from that trust account a particular amount of money depending upon what we're doing. I think the important thing for all of you to know is having said that and having done that, and this is something that happened shortly after we acquired the funds and the funds were invested, today, at the end of 2010, we still had $1,127,000 market value in the fund. This has been over a decade which has been one of the most trying decades as far as investment structures and returns on investments have been. And so it is so important. It has allowed us to do all the great and neat things that we're able to do," Conrad said. The bottom line, according to Conrad, was that the society "is in very good shape."