By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Donna Rausch, site director of the Felix Valle State Historic Site, was pleased with how a July 8 public information meeting on the site went.
“The state appears to be happy with what we’re doing,” Rausch said.
In addition to interested members of the public, various Missouri State Parks (NPS) personnel attended.
Part of the meeting dealt with how the site is working its way back from the COVID-19 pandemic, which largely shut things down in 2020.
“We talked a little bit about the way we weren’t able to do our La Revillion and the way we usually do it or our French Festival,” Rausch said. “We talked about continuing to work with the National Park Service.”
She also informed those present that the circa 1790 Green Tree Tavern (Janis-Ziegler House) will soon be transferred over to the NPS.
Rausch also told them “how proud I was” that staff members Nicole Boyer and Chelsi Montgomery had become so involved in the community outside of work hours – especially with Memorial Cemetery.
Rausch said the cemetery needs to be used as an interpretive tool.
Rausch also went over the site’s budget, recent activities and upcoming plans.
The operating budget is currently $54,210, although an additional $20,000 has been set aside to help replace the back porch on the circa 1818 Felix Valle House.
The site staff had given 306 tours for 754 people, put on 47 interpretive programs for 2,711 people and saw 5,862 people go through the gift shop.
Special programming included resumption of the annual Southeast Missouri State University Historic Preservation Field School, as well as the resumption of La Revillion, the French Heritage Festival and the “revamped” Rural Heritage Days.
“We’ll be bringing folks in,” Rausch said. “It just won’t be the same Rural Heritage.”
Rausch was asked at the meeting what is being done to continue taking COVID-19 precautions, Rausch said large groups continue to be split up to maintain social distancing. Plexiglas is used in some cases and staff is happy to wear masks if visitors request it.
“We are hoping that this year we can get all of our events back on track,” Rausch said.
She also urged the inclusion of the Foundation For Restoration of Ste. Genevieve’s Guibourd-Valle House in planning events.
“They’re on the periphery and don’t get the visitors they need to be getting,” she said.
Rausch also stressed how her site, along with the entire state apparatus, is working with the NPS.
“The state is committed to work with the National Park Service,” she said.
Brian Stith, deputy director for Missouri State Parks, Alex Kovac, deputy regional director and ranger Caleb Davis were among the personnel who attended.