Veterans museum to reopen Monday

New director will replace Farris

PARKERSBURG — The Veterans Museum of the Mid-Ohio Valley is expected to reopen Monday after a shakeup in its leadership this week.

Gary Farris, the executive director of the Veterans Museum of the Mid-Ohio Valley, was asked to resign this week, according to a letter from the museum’s board of directors.

Gloria Husk, president of the Veterans Museum board of directors, said as of Tuesday afternoon Farris has refused to accept the letter.

In the meantime, officials will be changing the locks, removing any of Farris’ personal items and returning them to him.

Husk will be taking over as the interim director until someone new is hired.

”We will be opening Monday (Oct. 9), regular hours,” she said.

According to the museum’s website, the museum, at 1829 Seventh St., is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment on Sundays.

”We are working to get everything in order and move as fast as possible,” Husk said on getting a new director hired.

In the letter, provided to the newspaper, the board stated it had lost confidence in Farris’ ability to lead the museum. They cited his resistance to formalizing accounting practices at the museum as well as maintaining contact with Angela Shoemaker, who has been convicted of embezzling from the museum, as a conflict of interest.

Shoemaker recently had been given access to the back office area at the museum, contrary to good security practices, the letter said.

Shoemaker, originally charged with felony embezzlement, in June in Wood County Magistrate Court reached a plea agreement with the state and pleaded guilty to petit larceny, a misdemeanor. Magistrate Jody Purkey sentenced Shoemaker to six months in prison, suspended it for two years unsupervised probation and ordered $4,340.03 in restitution to be directly paid to the museum.

Farris was contacted Tuesday about the situation at the museum to which he declined to comment on.

However, he did say the only times Shoemaker was at the museum office recently was to make payments on the money she agreed to pay back to the museum.

”She was there paying the money she owed us,” Farris said. ”That was the only reason she was there.”

The board’s letter stated that donors to the museum would withhold their support as long as Farris remained.

Farris, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, was the prime mover among veterans involved with the creation of the museum. Farris ran the museum from the basement of his home, at various locations in the area, then at Avery Street before it moved to Seventh Street.

The decision to part with Farris was not easy, the museum board said.

”We want the community to know this was a hard decision for us,” Husk said. ”We did it for the museum. We know what Gary put into the museum, but it was something that had to be done.”

Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said Tuesday the museum had a false alarm go off at the building. An officer was seen Tuesday stationed outside of the building for a short period of time.