PARKERSBURG - A group of concerned organizations are joining together to have a new security system installed at the Sumner School Museum in Parkersburg.
Ohio Valley Technology Services, National College Parkersburg Campus and Jan Dils Attorneys at Law have teamed up to provide the new security system for the historical museum on Avery Street.
Around Thanksgiving and earlier this month, the building was broken into twice. More than $17,000 in copper pipe and fittings was taken, as well as $1,660 worth of tools from volunteers who had begun repairs after the first break-in. Damage was reported to the restrooms, kitchen and throughout the building.
The Parkersburg Police Department is continuing to investigate the break-ins.
"We are still working potential leads every day," said police spokesman Sgt. Greg Collins.
Those involved with putting in the new security system wanted to preserve the history contained in the museum as well as the work volunteers continue to do there.
"All of the sponsors are keenly aware of the importance of Sumner School as a historical landmark and its cultural significance to our community, the Mid-Ohio Valley and the nation as a whole," said OVTS owner Mark Swann. "Preserving the legacy of Sumner School so that future generations can view the artifacts and learn of its history, is in my view of utmost importance."
The school, which was established in 1862, once housed the first free black school south of the Mason Dixon Line and was a fixture of the local African-American community throughout the years of segregation. In recent years, it was established as a museum detailing the history of the local African-American community with volunteers providing tutoring and other services to current students.
The sponsors have stepped forward to contribute financially to the project. Because of those contributions, the scope of the project has expanded from just providing some type of video security to installing other cameras, sensors and lights on the inside and outside of the building, Swann said.
In addition, National College will be upgrading school computers and providing ongoing maintenance to all computers at the school, organizers said.
"The sponsors are also working on the possibility of providing WiFi access which will enhance the school's academic tutoring program by expanding the resources available to the world wide web," Swann said. "This will also allow people on visits to mark their location as Sumner School on social networking sites via iPhones, iPads and other handheld computers."
Swann will act as project manager and do overall coordination. Jan Dils Attorneys at Law will be providing financial support in addition to some network resources. National College will be providing certified computer technicians and conducting the installation of all equipment.
Officials with Jan Dils Attorneys at Law and National College could not be reached for further comment Monday.
Toni Oliver, president of the Sumnerite Association, said a number of other groups and organizations from the community have contacted her about helping the Sumner Museum in some way.
As far as the alarm system and the other work being offered, Oliver said she was thrilled with the support shown by the community.
"We could not begin to afford something like that," she said of the museum's limited finances. "It will be very helpful."