Citing the need for a full-time employee, the Dawsonville City Council voted last week to disband the five-member volunteer panel that oversaw the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.
Steve Holder, who serves as Dawsonville’s planning director and facilities manager, among other duties, assumed management of the museum Nov. 4.
Mayor Joe Lane Cox said the decision to do away with the museum’s board of directors was based on several factors, chief among them a changing economic climate.
“We don’t have as many [city residential building permits] coming in as we did,” Cox said.
Holder has worked closely with museum volunteers for several months to prepare for a future expansion, which would include a civic center.
Holder said eliminating the board of directors was just the next step in growing the racing museum, which houses a collection of donated and loaned stock cars, trophies and racing memorabilia.
The museum also chronicles Dawsonville’s unique racing history and Dawsonville’s Bill Elliott’s rise to fame as one of the most popular NASCAR drivers of all time.
The city has also used the economic downturn to bring in additional racing artifacts, remodel several areas within the museum and increase and upgrade rental capabilities.
The board of directors was created in 2005 after the city assumed ownership of the failed Thunder Road complex.
City council appointed the board — volunteers Faye Abercrombie, Fred Goswick, Gordon Pirkle, Annie Dean Samples, who served as chair, and David Sosebee — to conduct the museum’s daily business operations and act as curators.
While the board of directors oversaw the business operations, the city has handled the museum’s operational budget, which comes from racing hall of fame functions, said City Administrator Kim Cornelison.
The board and a group of loyal volunteers have presented banquets, car shows and fundraisers.
“We want to thank those volunteers for all they’ve done over the years,” Cornelison said. “So many good things have happened here.
“But lately it’s become more and more evident that we should bring this in house. We want to be able to improve here.”
Former board member and racing historian Gordon Pirkle looks at the change as a step in a direction the museum has needed for some time.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve been wanting to do here, but haven’t been able to,” he said. “We’ve needed this for a long time.”
Holder said the city will continue to use the hall’s volunteer base for an advisory council and to give museum tours each weekend.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.