One Woman, Many Hats


Pictured: Lenise Peterman stands behind the desk at Helper’s Western Mining and Railroad Museum. Peterman was named director of the museum in November.

Lenise Peterman’s day usually starts anywhere from five to six in the morning and, after some early-morning exercise, work begins.

For this Helper resident, the term “work” can bring to mind anything from writing grants to foreseeing renovations projects and planning for future projects to help improve Helper’s Western Mining and Railroad Museum.

Peterman explained how she came to Helper, traveling and staying over the weekend multiple times per month for four years before officially moving to the small town.

“It’s really quite an honor to serve it,” she said in regards to the town. Peterman considers it a special chance she has to help provide a tie to the past with those who visit the museum. “It’s a privilege to be able to be here and provide that for the community.”

Though Peterman had no prior knowledge of museum workings when she was named director in November of last year, her professional experience has already served the institution. Working in management for such companies as Ford and GM gave Peterman the business know-how to help the museum in several areas.

Peterman is also looking forward to several additions to the museum already in the works. Such projects include a two-room exhibit featuring the story of Helper City and how it came to be and a room dedicated to Carbon Power Plant as well as a dedication wall which will be finished outside of the museum by May of this year.

The museum director, however, doesn’t stop when the building’s doors close. Peterman also helps with various community happenings, including the Helper Arts & Film Festival.

“We’re looking forward to another good, strong festival,” she said.

This year’s festival is set to kick off Aug. 17 and last until the following Sunday. It will feature favorite activities such as the gallery show, live music and a showcasing of films, including a showing of “Remember Wilberg” with the film’s director and producer in attendance.

Peterman also mentioned the possibility of scheduling a grassroots theatrical group to attend the festival and perform examples of Shakespeare for those in attendance.

Before the festival, though, several activities are scheduled for community members to attend and enjoy.

On April 22, the museum is hosting Castle Gate Outlaw Day. During the day, Helper’s Main Street will be closed and will feature era-specific activities including a horse and buggy, a biscuit and gravy meal as well as face-painting, a showing of a documentary about Butch Cassidy and a chance to hear from Bill Betenson, great-grandnephew of Cassidy.

As part of the festival, a dance concert will also be hosted on May 5 and 6 by Melissa Anast, artistic director of Spiral Dance Company. The dance concert is titled “Bloom.”

Later in May, Don Hartley, the Utah State Historical Architect, is scheduled to visit Helper and provide a walking tour of Helper’s main street to discuss the architecture and craftsmanship of the various buildings in the town. The tour is scheduled for May 16 at 4 p.m.

Also in May, on the 17th, a concert will take place in conjunction with Wells Fargo. The concert is free to the public and will feature The Red Feather Acoustic Trio. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. with proceeds from concession sales helping with the expenses of the arts festival.

“We have a lot going on,” Peterman said. “I think being so involved in so many things lets me see how we can all work together.”

Peterman remains confident that by working together with various projects throughout Helper, that a positive outcome is in the future.

“I think the more in concert we are with each other,” she said, “the stronger these things can be.”


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