It’s been a good year for the Blue Springs Historical Society, and that’s never an easy claim to make in the historical society business.

It’s been a good year for the Blue Springs Historical Society, and that’s never an easy claim to make in the historical society business.

Consider these changes: There’s now a monthly newsletter rather than a quarterly report; there’s more involvement in the community among society members; there are projects and missions for 2009.

And more members.

That last example brings a smile to Mary Potter’s lips. Having become the society’s president in April, she said it’s good that efforts among the board and members in 2008 have borne fruit. She said it’s difficult to stress the importance of historical society groups in cities.

“It’s important to know history, specifically local history,” she said. “That’s what our aim is.”

Much of the success, she said, is due in part to members becoming more active in the community. More involvement in the Fall Fun Festival attracted propspective members and shed a little light on future goals.

During the recent Christmas Homes Tour, as many as 200 volunteers helped usher people through seven homes and the musuem. In the past, only one home was typically open and society members depended on the ticket sales from only a few vendors.

“We got the tickets out in more businesses this year,” Potter said. “It paid off more than what we imagined.”

Also this year, the Dillingham-Lewis Museum, 101 S. 15th St., was open each Sunday.

“That’s been a big challenge, to open each Sunday,” she said. “You are basically saying there’s something for the community to see, but you’re also saying that there are enough volunteers to make it work.”

But there are more volunteers – as many as 25, according to Potter. She calls the new members the result of making the society visible.

“That’s what I think the society should be doing, to be able to promote itself and its goals,” she said. “It will only succeed when there is more community involvement.”

But goals and aims achieved in 2008 do not mean less work in the upcoming year and beyond. Those projects and goals include:

Replace the wiring at the Dillingham-Lewis House Museum. Damage to the wiring has now made the replacement necessary – and critical. “It needs replaced to meet codes,” Potter said. Improve on the society’s Web site. “It’s only bare bones,” Potter said.

Former City Council Member Jeff Quibell, who owns and operates a computer company, may help with its construction, Potter said. Among the features she’d like to see included on the Web site are links to the archives.

That would require a concerted effort to get the material on software. The current collection of historical records, photographs, manuscripts is kept at City Hall.

“To do it would take cooperation from City Hall and the society,” she said.

Begin the Educational Heritage Garden, which, when finished, will reflect a typical Midwest lawn and garden. Potter said the garden would be between the museum and the Chicago-Alton Hotel. It would be a cooperative project between the society, MasterGardeners and the Blue Springs School District agricultural science students.

“The plan is to have the students grow the seeds in the district’s new greenhouse,” Potter said.

In the end, students, 4-H members, scouts, and others will help keep the garden in operation.

Potter also would like to coordinate efforts with the school district to introduce some kind of Blue Springs history education in the schools. More fundraising events – one per month– beginning in March, and expand on exhibits at the museum and other areas.

“We have our own little niche here, one that is just as important and as interesting as the Vaile Mansion,” Potter said. “It just takes the cooperation among the society, the city, the chamber, businesses to get the word out and make it grow.”