News Column

Sherry Wesley to replace Gayle Berry as South Central Cultural Center director

July 16, 2014

By Gina Kinslow, Glasgow Daily Times, Ky.

July 16--GLASGOW -- After 14 years, Gayle Berry is retiring as executive director of the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center.

Berry's last day will be July 31, and the museum's board of directors voted Monday night to hire Sherry Wesley of Glasgow as the new executive director.

Wesley has volunteered at the museum since 2006 and has overseen the organization of the Harvest of History, a living history presentation each September.

Berry's career with the museum began in September 2000, when the cultural center was in the former JC Penney building at the corner of North Race and West Main streets, where Arts and Antiques is now. The museum moved to its current location in the former Kentucky Pants Co. building in September 2001.

During Berry's first year as executive director, the pants factory building was still being renovated.

"I think the log cabins were here," she said. "The rock shelter wasn't painted. It was sort of a shell. They still had plywood and plastic down on the carpet. It was a lot of running back and forth that first year I was here."

Since then, Berry said, the cultural center has grown by leaps and bounds.

At one time, for example, the museum had a tiny genealogy room. When it moved to the factory building, the genealogy room was larger but still isn't as big as it should be, since many visitors come to do genealogy research.

"Probably close to half the people come here with genealogy in mind," Berry said. "We're the only major source of genealogy research material."

Berry said meeting people has been her favorite thing about the job.

Berry recalled a couple who came to Glasgow in June for the Midway Island Reunion and visited the museum, but ran out of time before seeing all it has to offer.

"They were just so appreciative," she said. "That's the fun part. When someone tells you that they enjoyed what they saw and they were just blown away.

"We've had a lot of people to tell us that. They are just amazed that a small town like Glasgow has a gold mine like we do. So hearing that from the public is definitely ... wonderful."

Wesley, meanwhile, previously worked as an adjunct professor at Western Kentucky University, teaching social work. Before that, she was a therapist with LifeSkills.

Wesley began volunteering at the museum because it was something she's always wanted to do.

"My mother was a teacher and a lot of our vacations were to museums and historic sites and places like that," she said. "To me, local history is something that makes history more meaningful, I guess, because you can see the people. You know what the people have been through to get here."

Her love for the museum inspired her to apply for the executive director's position.

"I care about this place and I want to see it succeed," she said.

Wesley has no plans to make any immediate changes at the museum.

"I think right now my goal is to just be trained and get as much wisdom from Gayle as I can possibly get and from there we will see," she said.

The search for Berry's successor began about six weeks ago. Wesley was among eight candidates considered for the position.

Linda Wells, chairwoman of the search committee, said she knew Wesley was right for the position because of the passion she showed for the museum.

"She's volunteered there for about seven years and of course she's headed the Harvest of History and has done a wonderful job on that," Wells said. "She just seemed like the right person for the job. The passion was a big thing for me."

At one time, the executive director of the museum was an employee of the city of Glasgow, but Wells said that is no longer the case.

The city, which owns the museum, does contribute to the position, she said.

"The city still gives us money yearly for personnel, but she's not considered a city employee. That went by the wayside a couple of years ago," Wells said.

The position pays $30,000 with no benefits, according to Shelia Oliver, chairwoman of the museum's board of directors.

A reception for Berry will be from 1 to 3 p.m.July 24.


(c)2014 the Glasgow Daily Times (Glasgow, Ky.)

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Source: Glasgow Daily Times (KY)

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