Inner-committee issues cause Lake Co. officials to freeze museum funding

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

Channel 9 has learned Lake County may pull its funding to the managers of its history museum.

A private group called the Lake County Historical Society runs the museum, but county leaders are concerned about how the money is being spent, so they have frozen the bank account.

County leaders aren't suggesting managers improperly spent any money, but said they don't know who in the society has the legal authority to spend it.

For years, Lake County's historic courthouse has been home to the county's historical museum.

But many of the museum's exhibits have been removed, partly over a dispute among the museum's current managers, officials said.

"When there's a dispute over who has the financial control over the historical society, then we can't have taxpayer money in that situation," said Jimmy Conner of the Lake County Commission.

The county pays the society $20,000 a year to run the museum, but some county leaders now want that money back.

"The Historical Society has the money. It's a corporation. We may not know who the officers are, but the corporation exists," said county attorney Sandy Minkoff.

The funding has been frozen while different factions within the society fight for control, which recently included a disputed vote to remove longtime president Bob Grenier, who then removed some of the exhibits, which were his personal property.

The county fired off a letter ordering an audit of the funding and instructions to the society to legally identify its current officers.

"I'm discouraged that the letter wasn't taken to heart," said Conner. "The county's funding, unfortunately, is in jeopardy right now."

County leaders want to know who the legally elected officers are by the end of the month.

In 2009, the museum had a county-employed professional curator. She and the staff were let go due to budget cuts.