Sheldon Museum Director Jerrie Clarke resigned from the job this week, citing budget cuts and another job opportunity as reasons for her decision.
Haines Borough Manager Mark Earnest cut the museum’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year to save $17,500. He also recommended the museum close for three months during the winter. Earnest allocated almost $25,000 less than Clarke’s request for the upcoming fiscal year.
“I’m trying to keep things positive, but I want to be completely honest: The cut to our appropriation did have a factor in my decision,” Clarke said.
Earnest also cut the museum budget last year, causing Clarke to eliminate its collections and exhibits coordinator position. Clarke last year announced her resignation, but then changed her mind.
“Things were in such flux and chaos last year that I decided not to resign. I wanted to not slink out of town with my tail between my legs; I wanted to feel good about leaving... I was pretty discouraged last year when we lost a position, but I’m facing it with a more positive attitude this year,” she said.
Clarke will be working for the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nev.
Clarke said she received Earnest’s budget decision and the job announcement in the same week. “I took a while to think about it, because we are hosting a conference and hiring interns and it’s not the greatest time, but I was able to cover everything and this is such a great opportunity. It’s a step up, with more responsibility and professional staff in a place where there’s sun, and I can rent a two-bedroom house for the same amount I’m paying for an apartment here,” she said.
Earnest said Clarke will be leaving the position in mid to late June. Clarke announced at Tuesday’s assembly meeting that she would return to Haines for the Alaska Historical Society conference in September.
“We all have to deal with declining revenues and we all have to figure out how to make it work. It’s a personal decision and I respect her decision,” Earnest said.
Earnest hopes to begin advertising the position vacancy early next week.