The search for a new president and CEO of the Fort Smith-based U.S. Marshals Museum is “going well,” and the board hopes a new CEO will be named by end of summer, according to Museum Board Chair Doug Babb.
Patrick Weeks, who faces two felony charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, resigned as president and CEO of the U.S. Marshals Museum on March 4. Babb said the board in April hired Boston-based executive search firm Lindaurer, which specializes in non-profit organizations. The Lindauer firm recruited USMM Foundation President and Chief Development Officer Anthony Meyer earlier this year, Babb said.
“In the next few weeks, they will send us a finalist pool. We hope to get some finalists to Fort Smith at the end of July and hopefully have a new CEO sometime in August,” Babb said.
Babb, who took over the day-to-day responsibilities of the museum after Weeks was placed on administrative leave, continues to manage day-to-day operations and coordinate project progress with staff and the USMM and USMM Foundation Boards.
The new CEO will continue the work on the museum’s experiences and work towards a soft opening of the museum by next summer. The museum signed a contract in September 2021 with Thinkwell for the construction of the museum exhibits. Babb said the museum is now in the process of working with “various vendors” to build the experiences.
“They are working on 41 immersive experiences with lots of parts,” Babb said. “We hope those will be completed by February or March and installed by late spring of 2022.”
The immersive exhibits will employ interactive storytelling of tales from colonial days, to the western frontier, to challenges of a Marshal’s life today, the museum’s website states.
The museum foundation has raised the $7.8 million needed to complete that construction, Babb said late last year. Museum officials announced in early November that the Fort Smith-based museum had received an influx of contributions following a $5 million matching gift announced over the summer.
“We acknowledged going into this that it would take about $50 million to build the museum and the experiences,” Babb said. “We have raised around $45 million. We are working on the $5 million needed to complete everything.”
He said the foundation has sent more than 1,600 letters to former donors asking if they could help push the museum to the finish line.
“We have started getting in lots of pledges and commitments of donations,” Babb said.
Construction of the approximately 53,000-square-feet U.S. Marshals Museum was completed – except for exhibits – in early 2020. The facility is located on the Arkansas River near downtown Fort Smith. In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the national museum. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in September 2015, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017.
Weeks, hired in June 2014 as museum president and CEO, succeeded Jim Dunn who had served as museum president since 2009. Weeks was arrested Dec. 21 on two felony charges of aggravated assault with a firearm. He pleaded innocent on two counts of aggravated assault at his arraignment Dec. 30 and was placed on administrative leave Dec. 23 by the museum board. Week’s case was filed directly from Fort Smith District Court to Sebastian County Circuit Court before a preliminary hearing Feb. 15.
A jury trial under Sebastian County Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor, originally set for July 5, was continued to the week of Oct. 3 by the defense, said Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue. Weeks’ attorney Rex Chronister filed the motion for continuance June 3, stating he would be out of state July 5.
According to a Fort Smith Police Department report, Weeks refused to allow two OG&E workers into his yard to work on street lights Dec. 21. The workers called the police when Weeks followed them with a pistol and pointed the pistol at them. Weeks was arrested without incident following the encounter and was released on a $3,000 bond from the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center on Dec. 21. Conviction of a Class D felony is punishable by up to six years in prison, in addition to a fine not to exceed $10,000.