News Column

Museum benefactors close to reorganizing

July 7, 2014

By Michelle Firestone, The Chronicle, Willimantic, Conn.

July 07--LEBANON -- Trustees with the Hugh Trumbull Adams Family Trust are reviewing language regarding the formation of a nonprofit organization that would handle donations for the Jonathan Trumbull Jr. House.

Trustees from the Hugh Trumbull Adams Family Trust requested the LLC be established so they could appropriate funds to the museum, rather than the town providing the museum with funding.

Attorney Frederick Gahagan from Waller, Smith & Palmer, outlined the terms of a preliminary agreement during a June 27 board of selectmen special meeting.

Initially, selectmen were uncomfortable with the formation of the LLC, but felt better about it after a discussion with Gahagan.

"This has been quite a discussion for us," said Lebanon First Selectman Joyce Okonuk.

It is now up to Hugh Trumbull Adams Family trustees to review the draft language that was written to establish the LLC.

According to Gahagan, the town would need to rescind the ordinance that created the board of historical preservation and rewrite it so that it permits the formation of the LLC.

A town meeting must be held for any revisions to be made to the ordinance, he said.

Under the rewritten ordinance, members of the current board would essentially become a board of directors and include a new member from the Lebanon Historical Society.

"The board of directors of the museum is going to become the directors of the LLC," he said.

Of the nine members, one will be appointed by the historical society while the other eight will be appointed by selectmen.

"So the board of selectmen would always control the nomination of trustees to this LLC," said Gahagan.

Okonuk questioned how the finances would be managed.

"We've got volunteer people sitting on a volunteer board cutting checks on behalf of the town of Lebanon, and I'm wondering how we're going to manage that," she said.

Gahagan said the LLC "would have to have a bank account."

Any future funds coming to the museum through the Adams Family Trust will be filtered through the LLC and dispersed separately from the trust proceeds the town receives.

According to Gahagan, selectmen will continue to manage all the proceeds currently in the Trumbull Jr. House Museum fund and the accounting for those funds will continue to be handled as it is currently.

"I'm feeling a lot better about it," Okonuk said at the end of the meeting.

Gahagan said he would obtain copies of the financial reports for the Trumbull museum from the finance director and forward them to the Adams Family trustees in New York City.


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Source: Chronicle, The (Willimantic, CT)

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