Judge-Executive Curtis Dame has received a nomination to serve on the governing board of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS).
“I was very humbled to have my name submitted to be on (the nominations),” Dame said.
The governing board is currently led by Gov. Andy Beshear as chancellor and former LaRue County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner serving as president.
According to the website, KHS, based out of Frankfort, was formed in 1836 by a group of prominent Kentuckians intent on preserving the history of the commonwealth, which is a part of the Kentucky Tourist and Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The society has full American Alliance of Museums accreditation and is a Smithsonian affiliate.
“I pride myself to be mindful of the impact of preserving history not only local (but) statewide and nationally because I think if we do it in the right way, we can learn from things that have happened before,” Dame said. “Sometimes, you don’t have to have a conversation to understand the significance of a place or an event in time. You can just visit a site. To me, … the most humbling part is to know this organization serves as a foundation for that type of discussion.”
The society’s mission is to both educate and engage the public through Kentucky in order to meet the challenges of the future and become the recognized leader in helping people understand, cherish and share the state’s stories through service, discovery, excellence, authenticity, and stewardship.
“The Historical Society actually helps, in some respects, to do governmental reviews of federally funded and state funded grant projects to make sure that if you’re doing a project and it’s in a historical facility that we don’t jeopardize the structure of the facility to where it would lose that historical feel,” Dame said.
Dame believes that he was selected for the nomination pool for the work that he has been doing during his term as judge-executive since 2019.
“The discussion for my ability to represent McLean County came from the efforts that I tried to use and be creative on repairing and restoring county facilities that are historical in nature,” Dame said.
Dame mentioned the key facility that he has been keen on preserving is the McLean County Courthouse in Calhoun.
“As far as McLean County is concerned, it’s more financially responsible to take care of the house that we have rather than in the future to have to build a new one,” Dame said. “And secondly, just the heritage and the history that comes along with it — I think it’s a great testament to how we should try to give back to preserve the history. I’m just very fortunate enough that somebody (has) submitted my name to where I can help with that process.”
Dame said the opportunity to serve on the board would help put McLean County “on the map,” noting the rich history that the county has and notes the “superb” work from the McLean County History Museum and Regional Family Research Center of keeping historical documents and records.
“I’ve really started to ramp up my efforts to be involved with them,” Dame said. “We have people … that travel to McLean County for the history and ties that they have. They come from across the country.”
Dame said the efforts of preserving history can lead to other positives for the county.
“In some ways, if we do proper historical preservation, it lends itself to tourism,” Dame said. “It lends itself to people wanting to come and research their family … and events … and in some ways, it eventually reaches out to economic development.
“We have to start somewhere and this is the right way to start. We have to preserve what we have if we want to build for the future.”
Dame has always been fascinated and fond of history, whom he credits to his parents and grandparents getting him started on learning how to trace family trees.
“A lot of it goes back to wanting to know where you came from — the genealogy side of it,” Dame said. “I was always raised to know who my ancestors were — my relatives, family members; I think it started with that.”
History classes in school also kept up Dane’s interests.
“The icing on the cake for me is that I had phenomenal history teachers throughout my educational career,” Dame said. “From elementary all the way to high school, I had teachers that, I could tell, were passionate about it. I realized that their passion has probably made it, more-so, of a hobby for me to continue to be invested.”
Dame’s first experience with KHS was when he took a trip to the society’s facility in Frankfort with his high school’s history club for a state history club meeting, where he submitted a research paper on the Battle of Sacramento. Since then, Dame has been there a number of times for training and meetings such as Kentucky Farm Bureau’ Leadership Enhancement for Agricultural Development (LEAD) program, along with state and federal grant program review processes.
“I guess you can say I’m a periodic visitor,” Dame said. “I enjoy going back because it’s Kentucky history centered, which lends itself to what role we play on a national level.”
Dame said that the ballots for voting were sent out two weeks ago, with statewide paid members of KHS participating in the voting process.
With this being his first nomination, Dame is just happy to be part of the conversation.
“I’m more thrilled at the opportunity at the moment,” Dame said. “I’m very humbled to have the opportunity to represent McLean County on a statewide board and to give us a voice for the next four years, if elected …. I think we’re a hidden gem here in Western Kentucky ….”
The results of the new governing board will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting on Nov. 5.
Freddie Bourne, firstname.lastname@example.org