Anna Sledge has been named new director
by Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
On May 3, Cleveland resident, Anna Sledge, was named the new director of the Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum, taking over the reins from the previous director, Lisa Miller.
“I graduated from Delta State in 2010 with a degree in Speech and Hearing Science, but actually went to work with Dr. Don Blackwood at Family Medical Clinic here in town, spending 11 years working in the front office for him at the clinic,” said Sledge. “I never pursued anything pertaining to my degree because, at the time I graduated I had my first child. So, there wasn’t really any time for me to further my education and get a masters degree. As far as my new job here at the museum, I noticed the job opening on Facebook and, even though I really wasn’t even looking for anything new or a change, it just sounded very interesting to me. I applied and…here we are!” she said.
Although Sledge had certainly been familiar with the railroad museum and had visited it many times before landing her new position, Sledge said she now also understands much more about what the landmark truly represents for Cleveland.
“This is a wonderful town,” she enthused. “For me now, having a role in promoting Cleveland and bringing visitors in to see and experience all that we have to offer, is extremely rewarding. I think my enthusiasm about Cleveland, the museum and how to grow it is what impressed the people from the City who interviewed me for the position.” continued Sledge.
“I see my main responsibility now as getting more people, especially tourists, into the museum to see the history on display and take in the fantastic experience that awaits them.”
Sledge mentioned a few of the events and happenings she’s most excited about taking place at the museum.
“We’ll have storytime on Wednesday where we read to the children who attend, inviting different guests to do so,” she noted, “as well as ‘Popcorn Friday’ where, as the name implies, we’ll serve popcorn to our visitors. We will also be lining up a sno-cone machine once a week as a special treat. I’m also eager to expand our gift shop and grow it,” said Sledge. “I’ve got a new t-shirt and hat design in the works, new items like magnets, wire ornaments, bandannas, train whistles–just a whole assortment of items, some of which will be promoting Cleveland the city and not just the railroad museum.” Sledge said she also plans to open up a designated area at the museum where Cleveland artists can display and sell their artwork.
The staff of the museum consists of Sledge and five train conductors without whom, she said, “I couldn’t do any of the things I want to do and am planning. They know everything about the museum from A to Z and have been so helpful to me and our visitors.”
Sledge said while Covid did reduce visitation numbers to the museum, restrictions have now been lifted and she fully expects a rise in foot traffic.
“And, towards that end, we’re no longer going to close for lunch as had been the case,” said Sledge. “We want to be as accessible as we possibly can to facilitate more visits.”
Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. And, while the museum is closed on Sunday and Monday, Sledge said she is usually always on-premise at the first of the week.
“In fact, someone came by last Monday and I let them in to look around even though we weren’t ‘officially’ open.” she said.
It’s that type of ‘openness’ Anna Sledge brings to her new job which will no doubt serve her, the railroad museum–and Cleveland–well into the future.