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York County panel picks museums director

An Oklahoma-based museum director will get the invitation from the leaders of York County's museums to take the helm.

The Culture and Heritage Commission voted unanimously at its Monday night meeting to offer Carey Tilley, of Park Hill, Okla., the position of executive director.

Since 2006, Tilley has been the executive director of the Cherokee National Historical Society in Park Hill, where he oversees the Cherokee Heritage Center whose mission is to "preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture" through exhibits, living history, art, education programming and cultural preservation.

Before that, Tilley was executive director for the Chieftans Museum and Major Ridge Home, a National Historic Landmark in Rome, Ga.

"We chose (Tilley) over three great candidates," said Commissioner David Duncan. "It was tough."

Tilley was one of four finalists, including current interim director Harry Exell of Rock Hill. Exell was hired in September after former director Van Shields resigned amid a controversial shake-up of museum leadership.

"Obviously, it's a heart-wrenching decision," said Commission Chairman David Plexico. "That said, Mr. Tilley stood out from the others in the group due to management skills that he possessed and fundraising abilities."

Tilley's experience working with the Cherokee also is a plus, Plexico said.

Other finalists included a North Carolina-based financial and management consultant with corporate and nonprofit experience and ties to Historic Brattonsville, and an Indiana-based museum curator and peer reviewer for historic sites seeking accreditation.

Tilley could not be reached for comment Monday night.

More transparency

In other actions Monday night, the commission voted unanimously to post vital documents, financial and otherwise, on the organization's website for public view.

The proposal aimed at achieving more transparency was the brainchild of Commissioner Dennis Getter who said the commission has received "pot shots" of criticism for the decisions they've been making.

After reviewing the Culture and Heritage Museums' website, Getter said he noticed another problem.

"We tell people a lot about the museum. We don't tell them a lot about us," he said, proposing a list of documents which will be added to the website:

Last two years of meeting agendas and approved minutes and upcoming ones

Last two years of financial audits and IRS tax forms and upcoming ones

Current annual budget and quarterly finance reports

Legal documents that define the commission's scope and authority

The commission's ongoing initiatives and strategic plan

Meeting budget goals

The commission, which took over in June, also received its first complete financial report from the last six months Monday night.

Beth Latham, York County finance director, said the museums are bringing in more money than they're spending, which means they're on track to meet their annual budget.

According to a report for the first six months of the museums' 2011-2012 budget, the museums have brought in 48 percent of its projected revenue and spent only 46 percent of anticipated expenses.

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