TURNER — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to ask residents if they want to acquire the Turner Natural History Club and Museum.
The building sits on 1.6 acres and is over 100 years old, according to former Selectmen Ralph (Raz) Caldwell who attended the meeting. The club dates back to the 1920 and is a repository of tens of thousands of seashells, and animal and plant specimens, among other items.
The clubhouse is a shallow white cape built in 1930 at 442 Turner Center Road.
Jim Talbot, president of the Turner Historical Society, and Barbara Beedy, curator, attended Monday’s meeting along with Caldwell and Elaine Chouinard, former secretary of the Natural History Club, to plead for the board to help keep the building’s ownership in Turner.
“I am interested in the town keeping this building,” Selectman Angelo Terreri said. He made a motion to put the issue on the 2018 town meeting warrant.
According to Talbot, former club President Gordon Twitchell planned to see the property donated to the Youth Group of the Stanton Bird Club of Lewiston, though Twitchell resigned from the presidency of the club in 2014.
Beedy presented the board with paperwork showing James Nutting of Turner as the president and treasurer of the Natural History Club that has seen declining membership for many years. The only other member names listed were Homer Hinkley, Anita LaChapelle and Elaine Chouinard, all of Turner.
Because of declining numbers, the club’s board voted this summer to dissolve the club.
Town Manager Kurt Schaub gave the board a copy of the club’s bylaws to review. Article 14 states that if the club were dissolved confirmed assets would be “transferred or conveyed, in trust or otherwise, to the Town of Turner, or to a charitable and educational entity.”
The document designates the Maine State Museum as the preferred entity to receive the contents of the Natural History Club Museum, with the town the preferred entity for receiving and managing the remaining assets.
Talbot said most of the museum’s contents have been allocated to the Maine State Museum. Five paintings, specific to Turner, were given to the Turner Historical Society and hung in the Turner Historical Museum on the fourth floor of the Leavitt Institute. He said one painting has since been removed by Twitchell and given to the town of Livermore, because some believed it depicted a scene in Livermore.
“We won’t bother you with the issue of the painting. We just would like your help with the building,” Talbot said.
In other business, the board:
• Voted unanimously to set the maximum General Assistance amount at the same level as the state. The total given out last year was $1,772, mainly for heat and rent; and
• Announced that contractors interested in details about the town’s crushing services bid should contact Turner Public Works Department Manager Leland Searles at 225-3477 no later than Sept. 27.