Annual Report - 2010
The following is an annual report for the Friends of Fort Knox (FFK) reflecting the organization’s activities in 2010. This report will highlight the continuation of the Century and a Half masonry project, Battery ‘B’ wharf/wall effort and an up tick in two of four income sectors. The largest income decline was registered in our gate income percentage. The Bureau of Parks and Lands had requested that the Friends accept a 50% reduction in contract gate fees. The reduction meant that FFK only retained .25 cents on every dollar of Fort gate fees (all observatory fees go directly to the Maine Department of Transportation).
Overall FFK gross revenue was up 9.5% from 2009.
The Friends of Fort Knox Board of Directors and staff continued to work hard to contain expenses, work with community groups, maximize resources, diversify income streams and complete projects at the Fort. The success of the organization would not have been possible without the outstanding cooperation of our partners, the Bureau of Parks and Lands, and especially park manager Mike Wilusz.
At the end of 2010, all FFK combined available unrestricted funds were $163,965; in addition, a total of $25,016 was restricted for restoration projects.
The FFK partnership with the Bureau of Parks and Lands continued to involve contracted management services. FFK staff worked the fee collection booth, provided interpretive tours for school children and visitors, traffic/parking control and provided staff for the Penobscot Narrows Observatory. In addition, FFK provided bookkeeping, marketing and special event management services for BPL.
The total operational season visitor attendance at Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory was 81,389, during 2010. Attendance totals were up 4% from the previous year. Adding in Friends’ sponsored special events such as Fright at the Fort boosted overall attendance to 91,230.
Interesting attendance statistics for 2010 are bulleted below:
* Over all exempt use (non paying admission) was up 11%. Exempt use includes Maine senior citizens; children under age 5, school groups, social service programs and season pass holders.
* Non-resident adult visitors dropped 7% for the observatory while non-resident seniors rose 2%.
* Observatory attendance was up 5% over 2010.
* Exempt school student visitation increased by 22%.
* Special event visitor attendance increased by 14%.
Information in the report will be contained under general headings listed below.
The Century and a Half masonry project continued throughout the year and focused on the completion of repointing the ten-casemate areas of the main Fort. Two vent areas located in the vaulted ceiling of the northernmost casemate were boarded up due to concern of falling bricks from the top of the vents. Masons repointed approximately the top four-feet of the vents and the boards will be removed before the coming operating season.
A floodlight was installed in the Fort control booth to provide illumination for the three flags adjacent to the main parking lot. Illuminating the flags allows them to be flown 24-hours a day and reduces the amount of time park rangers had spent raising and lowering them. Approximately, one-half of the exterior lights illuminating the Fort façade’ were replaced.
The major project this year centered on ‘Battery B’ and adjacent demisbastion walls that had been destabilized due to decades of freeze/thaw cycles due to poor drainage. The project began in October with the deconstruction of the Battery B retaining wall with heavy machinery. During deconstruction, a granite drain was discovered at the base of the wall that had been covered with soil and was not functioning. Workers dug a trench from the granite drain leading to the river and installed a perforated pipe to direct water away from the wall.
Another feature unearthed during the retaining wall deconstruction a metal anchor inserted into a granite block that may have been associated with the use of a steam derrick during Fort construction. Steam derricks were used on the wharf area, adjacent to the Fort proper and interior, to lift massive granite blocks into place.
Other elements to the Friends’ funded repair project included wharf repairs and extensive erosion control measures leading to ‘Battery B’. The repairs were funded from proceeds from the annual Fright at the Fort Halloween event.
Volunteers are a crucial component to Friends of Fort Knox activities. A breakout in the number of volunteer hours for 2009 is listed below:
Estimated Volunteer Hours 2010
FFK Board and Committees: 512 hours
FFK Gift Shop Volunteers: 615 hours
FFK sponsored special event volunteers includes Park Day, Scottish Tattoo, 20th Maine, SCA, Fright at Fort: 2,800 hours
Total estimated Fort volunteer hours documented by the Friends: 3,927 and 298 volunteers.
Interpretive Tours- Another bright spot in this year’s annual report are the interpretive tours provided by Friends’ staff during 2010.
# of school group tours – 39 – 1,499 students
# of general public tours – 276 – 1,303
# of non school group tours – 27 - 994
Total # of tours – 342
Total # of individuals receiving a tour –3,796
Summer camps often visit the Fort and enjoy an educational tour by FFK staff.
Gate Staffing- Friends of Fort Knox personnel greeted visitors throughout the operating season, providing guidance and collecting admission fees. Gate personnel provided services seven days a week, 8 hours a day for the operating season (9 hours a day July/August).
Observatory Staffing- Beginning May 1, 2010, FFK provided two staff people, seven days a week, at 8.50 hours a day (9.5 hours July/August), to operate the observatory. FFK staff was trained by BPL personnel in CPR, first aid, emergency evacuation procedures and in the use of a defibrillator. Staff performed exceptionally during several emergency evacuations of the observatory due to elevator malfunctions.
The observatory looms in the summer sky awaiting daily visitors.
Special Events – Friends sponsored special events continued to please visitors with a variety of entertainment and educational demonstrations throughout the season. Notable special events included a Park Day cleanup, Maine Foster Care Family Day, Paranormal/Psychic Faire, Scottish Tattoo, Pirate Day, Medieval Tournament, 20th Maine Company ‘B’ Civil War reenactment, cannon firings, Civil War medical demonstration, Shakespeare, Fright at the Fort and a granite cutting demonstration.
The “Must Roos” pirate ship plies the waters off Fort Knox during Pirate Day activities and a Civil War cannon firing demonstration.
Listed below are the four main income streams for FFK that span the past four years. Significant income growth was seen in the contribution/grant percentage in 2010. A significant decrease was seen in the FFK gate contract percentage, due to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands request that FFK accept a 50% contract reduction.
Income 2010 2009 2008 2007
Gift Shop- $94,799 $98,007 $99,350 $111,995
Special Events- $58,606 $48,890 $59,174 $55,732
Gate Contract - $50,000 $90,124 $80,998 $124,765
Contributions- $48,451 $20,006 $81,517 $17,233
Totals- $251,856 $257,027 $321,039 $309,725
Promotion and Public Education
The Friends of Fort Knox distributed over 8,000 newsletters to visitors to Fort Knox. The newsletters contained information on the history of the Fort, Friends’ restoration priorities and event schedules. Ongoing radio and television ads encouraging visitors to visit Fort Knox and the observatory aired throughout the season.
The Friends received a large amount of electronic and print media coverage throughout the year. The reopening of the observatory, restoration efforts and special events drove media coverage.
Future Restoration/Preservation Projects – The Friends of Fort Knox Board working in partnership with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands have identified the restoration of a powder magazine adjacent to the northern casemates as the priority project for 2010.
The restoration project will involve replacing rotted wood planks and matching the type of wood to the original. Every effort will be made to retain and preserve as much of the original powder magazine wood and fixtures as is practicable.
This powder magazine represents one of the main storage areas where black powder was stored for use in the Rodman and twenty-four pound blank howitzer cannon batteries. Powder magazines were constructed of wood and made use of copper fixtures to guard against any unintended spark that may have caused a catastrophic explosion.
When the project is complete visitors will be able to see a well lit interpretive display depicting how the powder magazine may have appeared and for what purpose it was constructed.