PHILIPSBURG – After a stormy session at its monthly meeting May 25, the board of the Philipsburg Historical Foundation passed a resolution.
The resolution forbids board members to speak out on any topic of historical interest, or otherwise, without consultation and consent of the entire board.
This ukase is aimed at Historical Foundation board members Luther Gette and Mark Seinfelt, curator and vice president, respectively of the foundation.
Both have spoken out strongly against placement of crass commercial signage near the John Henry Simler House, one of Philipsburg’s premier historic sites.
“This resolution is a sideshow, really,” says Gette. “The real question is why our board is not speaking out with one voice in opposition to the totally disruptive placement of the sign by Borough Manager Joel Watson and … the Philipsburg Borough Council.
“Unfortunately, we have some board members, of the go-along-to-get-along ilk, who are more concerned about mumbling obeisance to Watson and the Borough Council than in safeguarding and promoting our historic sites, as they’re supposed to be doing.”
“Fortunately, we have extensive recourse in state law,” Gette says. “The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has the authority to review historic signage in any part of the state, with regard to content, placement and style.
“We have already been advised that the Lumber Heritage Sign violates PHMC guidelines, and we will be pursuing resolution of this issue at the Simler House, up to and including removal of the sign, if this question can’t be resolved on a local level.”
“In the meantime,” says Gette, “we are offering our views as completely private citizens, and not as officers of the Philipsburg Historical Foundation, in full compliance with the resolution of our board, whose members seem to feel that not taking a stand on any issue is the best they can do.”