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Collins Using Shutdown To Settle Into Role As National Park Superintendent

Chris Collins, the first permanent superintendent for the Sainte Genevieve National Historical Park, has been working on interpretation materials for the Jean-Baptiste Valle House [above]. Also known as the Last Commandant’s House, it has not often been open for tours. (Photo by TOBY CARRIG/Herald staff)

Chris Collins’ first weeks on the job have not gone the way he had anticipated this winter when he was named the first permanent superintendent of the Sainte Genevieve National Historical Park.
The COVID-19 pandemic has limited his ability to get out and meet people and to see Ste. Genevieve as it normally would be at the beginning of spring.
“It has not gone the way I thought,” Collins said. “I thought I would have a lot more opportunity to meet people in town.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shelter at home orders have made his first weeks on the job a surreal experience.
“I’d just got started when all of this hit, and everything has just come to a screeching halt,” Collins said.
He has been limited in networking with people, due to the virus.
“As far as reaching out, meeting other organizations in town, I’ve met a few,” he said. “It’s easy to work with the folks across the street at the Welcome Center and, of course, Donna [Rausch, Felix Valle Historic Site administrator], the FCA [French Colonial America] have been great, but I was hoping to meet the folks at the Museum Learning Center, and haven’t had the opportunity to do that.
“The Master Gardeners, I’ve talked to on the phone, but I haven’t had an opportunity to meet them in person.”
Their May event was one of those canceled by the virus.
Still, the shutdown has allowed Collins to take care of some needed work.
“This isn’t how I thought it would go, at all. But, in a way, it’s given me a little breathing room, which has been nice,” he said. “I didn’t have purchase authority when I first got here. We had no supplies, no equipment, nothing, and now I’ve been able to get a slow start on that, which was really good.”

See complete story in the April 15 edition of the Herald.

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