Dear VAHS Members,
The Fall Season, according to the calendar, is now officially here! Of course, those of us in Southwest Florida know that the snowbird season hasn't really started yet. There are a lot more folks who will be returning to our tropical world after this newsletter arrives. For those who have recently returned, welcome back! Over the next few weeks, we look forward to seeing many more of you, and we hope you’ve had a good summer. While you were gone, several important ongoing activities have been taking place within VAHS.
The planning process never stops, and many of your Board and committee members have
been actively engaged in several initiatives throughout the summer, not the least of which has been the Circus Train Car Project (more on that later). The Historic Venice Train Depot, which relies on VAHS support, has continued to host visitors throughout the summer, including a couple of special events that were held in August and September. Our normal service in the off season is limited to three-hour Saturday shifts. Docent scheduling is thus an ongoing function, thanks to diligent work by Dave Taylor. Of course, his efforts will increase in a few weeks due to the needs of our four-day-a-week seasonal schedule beginning on November 1 and continuing through April. If you'd like to help with this service to the community, I think you'd find it rewarding, not to mention that nifty docent shirt with the caboose logo, plus a bright red bandana. The team provides training and will pair you up with a seasoned docent who'll serve as your mentor.
Due to extraordinary efforts in recent months by Betty Intagliata, our Program Chair, we now have a full season of programs lined up and ready to commence on October 16. We begin the season with an in-character portrayal of the legendary Bertha Palmer by Kate Holmes, an area historian and talented reenactor. This will be followed by a program in November on the Kentucky Military Institute whose winter campus in Venice from 1932 to 1970 was instrumental in helping keep the area alive. Presented by Larry Humes, a KMI alumnus and periodic writer on local area history for the Venice Gondolier Sun, this program is sure to be informative and interesting. Beginning in January, we'll have a monthly series through May on the history and influence of the Native Americans who inhabited Southwest Florida in the centuries before settlers moved into the area. Betty invested a great deal of time setting up this series. We owe her many thanks for her efforts
As I noted before, we've also been working diligently to keep the Circus Train Car Project "on track,” so to speak. The Board formed an Oversight Committee to work closely with our contractor on a regular basis to review and coordinate efforts on the project. This includes direct use of outside vendors by VAHS, when productive, to complement the work of Uniglide Trailer Co., our prime contractor. This committee has been meeting with Uniglide representatives biweekly to discuss and assess the project. We need to thank our project leaders, George Miller and Mary Huba, for finding creative ways to maintain a productive pace on this complex restoration project.
In addition, we have been working with Sarasota County to coordinate and produce a new lease for the Depot waiting rooms, the caboose, and the circus car. This new lease will increase VAHS’s level of responsibility for Depot maintenance. The increased scope of work seems to be consistent with the County’s expectations for other park resources across the County as well, including jointly-managed parks within Venice and other communities.
I hope you enjoy reading about the various activities in which your Society is involved. Of course, I am going to reiterate my theme that this organization works because we have member volunteers who are willing to give their time and/or personal resources to make good things happen. I would encourage each of you to consider being a contributor to the services VAHS provides, if you are not already engaged. Talk to any of our Board members or committee chairs. We'll be thrilled to help you find your niche.
Clarke Pressly, President