New Rockford, ND

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Eddy County Museum Hosts Uninvited Guest

The museum's "guest" being shown out
The museum's "guest" being shown out

October 9, 2012
– When Eddy County Historical Society and Museum board members Inez Pendergrast and Betty Westby stopped in at the schoolhouse building on September 27 to organize some stored inventory, they weren’t expecting the terrible scene that awaited them.

“It looked like an earthquake had hit the building,” said Pendergrast. “There were mannequins tipped over, pictures knocked off the walls, papers everywhere, broken glass, a real mess. We didn’t know what had happened.”

The two locked up the building and called other board members, who went over to investigate. Board president Jessica Dillon said, “At first glance, since the damages were contained to just one of the buildings, we were afraid the museum might have been vandalized. In a weird way, that is what happened.”

But telltale chew marks and rodent droppings strewn throughout the building left little doubt who was to blame for all the damages: an intrepid, uninvited squirrel had found a way in, and was making himself comfortable among the vintage dresses and antique hats.

Board vice president Susie Sharp took the unwelcome visitor on headfirst, calling animal control and arranging for live traps to be set. Alfred Ritzke volunteered to set and check the traps, and within a day, the angry guest was caught in one of the wire traps. “He was so mad,” Sharp said, “squawking and growling and rattling the bars of the trap.”

Ritzke took the trap out of town and released the squirrel, leaving only the damages to be cleaned up as evidence of his night at the museum. The squirrel appears to have gained entry through the ceiling, indicated by a chewed hole in one of the acoustic tiles, so the building’s roof and exterior will be inspected to prevent other squirrels from finding the same route.

The museum is closed for the winter and will reopen on Memorial Day weekend of 2013. Several recent resignations have created vacancies on the board for any member of the public who is interested in helping curate and preserve the cultural and historical heritage of Eddy County. Volunteers are also needed and welcome for small preservation and archival projects throughout the winter. Please contact Jessica Dillon at 947-2205 for more information.

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