The Ottumwa Courier

February 18, 2013

County museum getting electrical upgrade

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — If the right spark hits the wrong spot, the spark could become hungry flames of fire.

Ask Phyllis Dean. She’s the treasurer of the Wapello County Historical Museum board. Recently she worried about the building’s plug-ins, switch boxes, breakers and everything electrical.

“We just don’t have enough plug-ins,” Dean said. “The staff members are always searching for three-prong adapters.”

Dean sighed as she spoke of new switch boxes that are needed because the old ones and are actually worn out.

Then she smiled when she told of a grant the Legacy Foundation and the Wapello County Foundation’s plans to put funds in the museum and Phase One has started.

New parts and other equipment are more compact than what the museum has had for years. Dean said there was now a double closet for breakers and other electrical items.

“The area needed now is only 2 feet wide,” she said. “The crew took a big metal cabinet and an old main switch, and Alliant Energy hooked it all up for us. It really needed done.”

As the decades have passed, the museum has been remodeled in various areas. However, the new plug-ins the staff have been using “is too much” for the older wiring.

“We didn’t want to put the newer stuff into the bundle of old stuff,” Dean said.

Staff and volunteers have been working in some of the rooms as the electricians tracked wiring and other parts of the museum’s electrical setup.

“Like the military history room. First we get all of memorabilia out of storage so the crews can work,” she said. “Now we’ve got a basement area that’s full of electrical equipment, so we should have all the juice we need.”

Dean said the whole project started last October.

“Now we’re comfortable hearing about electrical updates,” she said and chuckled.

Dean is also used to taking museum displays out of a room, cleaning, painting, then putting stuff back where it was.

“We were fortunate to get help from the Legacy Foundation,” she said. “Our next project may be the lobby area. We’d like to have energy-efficient windows to help us with heating and cooling.”

For information, contact the museum board at 641-682-8676.