News Column

Historical society director to retire

July 15, 2014

By Nick Smith, The Bismarck Tribune, N.D.

July 15--BISMARCK, N.D. _ After more than 30 years working in state government, State Historical Society of North Dakota Director Merle Paaverud has decided to call it a career.

Paaverud, 65, officially told the 12-member State Historical Society board last Friday of his plans to retire Nov. 14. The board was meeting in New Town.

The board had appointed Paaverud director in 2001. He has worked for the state of North Dakota for 31 years.

Paaverud began his career in 1983, as site supervisor for the Fort Totten State Historical Site. He also has held positions as director of historic sites and director of archaeology and historic preservation for the Historical Society.

"It's been a great ride," Paaverud said. "The things we've been able to accomplish have been great and I hope people enjoy them."

Paaverud said his departure will come right after the official grand opening of the renovated Heritage Center.

The $51.7 million, 97,000- square-foot expansion is to be ready for the Nov. 2 grand opening to mark North Dakota's 125th anniversary. The first two of the three main galleries opened in late April.

Paaverud said the changes have drawn a great response from the public thus far.

Being able to see the Heritage Center expansion through to completion will be one of the more satisfying accomplishments of his tenure, he said.

"That was always my long- term goal when I became director," Paaverud said.

Planning for the expansion began in the early 2000s.

Earlier this year, the Historical Society board approved the purchase of the childhood home of Lawrence Welk near Strasburg.

Paaverud said lawyers are still finalizing the details of a purchase agreement.

State Historical Society board president Calvin Grinnell called Paaverud a good friend and wished him well.

"He's done a great job with the transition to the new (Heritage Center) expansion," Grinnell said.

Despite the heavy workload it required to make progress on projects such as the Heritage Center, Paaverud always stayed positive and could rarely be spotted without a smile, Grinnell said. He said Paaverud's positive nature and dedication served the department well.

A search committee will soon begin the process of finding a new director.

"We're going to have big shoes to fill," Grinnell said.


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Source: Bismarck Tribune (ND)

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