The Highland Center Names a New Director, Shifts Focus


The Highlands Center in Monterey recently chose a new director by the name of Henry Budzinski. Henry stopped by the studio recently so that we could talk about the Highland Center’s new focus on the local community. But first, I needed some background.

Henry, what is the Highland Center’s purpose?

The model of the Highland center is it’s a catalyst for cultural and economic development for the community. We have the Arts Council and they’re the artists in residence. The Arts Council holds a lot of events, as we have the Highland children’s house, a place where they could have their children while they work. And also we have a new Highland educational Co Op, which will have programs for homeschooling.

And the Chamber of Commerce is in there as a tenant?

The Chamber of Commerce is a tenant along with the visitors’ center.

So Henry, you held a meet and greet recently at the Center. What did you take away from that?

Thanks, everyone for coming out to the meet and greet.  I had a lot of conversations with different people for compute community and the thing that I took away from it is that the community wants the Highland Center to be a vibrant center and used every day for county activities. I got a lot of good ideas for moving the center forward and getting into the actively involved in the community.

I understand you had a pretty good turnout.

The community responded well to our meet and greet.

And it seems to me that probably tells you something about the community’s interest in the Highland Center and what can be done to move it forward.

Yes, sir. Is the meet and greet with the great turnout that we had, and me being around town talking people talking people, they stop me on the street, talk to me in the restaurants and everything that I have has been positive impact or positive about the Highland Center, and they’re glad that I’m there to, you know, work with it and move it forward.

So they’ve been giving you ideas?

Yes, sir.

The kinds of ideas you can take back and noodle on and talk to the board about and perhaps implement down the road?

Take, for example, our New Year’s Eve event that we’ll be holding this year. Is it Meeting with Mary Beth Gutshall. So I introduced myself because of her Odds ‘n Ends column in The Recorder and she asked if we’re going to do the New Year’s Eve event. I said, yes, we are and so she volunteered and enlisted Donna Bedwell and the Highland Children’s House with Callie Smith to offer a children’s program there to help the parents on New Year’s Eve. So those three ladies are the backbone of that event and put it together for the center and myself.

I understand that the admission to this year’s New Year’s Eve event is going to be affordable no matter who you are.

Yes, we want the whole community to come out. We want to fill the auditorium with people and everyone have a good evening and good New Year’s Eve to bring in the New Year of a new Highland Center.

Henry, what do you think can be done to make the Highland Center more accessible and inviting to county residents?

Our plans in the future are to hold events that are relevant to the community.

I’ve heard that some organizations have wanted to hold events there in the past but found the rental fee too steep. Do you think anything can be done with that?

That’s one consistent concern or complaint that I’ve had from the community is that there’s a lot of feeling in the community that fees are too high at the center.  And one of our goals that the board and I are working on is we’re going to revamp our fees in the next few months and make them equitable across the board. Anyone in the community can enjoy the benefits of the Highland Center.

You heard him. Henry’s goal is to ensure that the Highland Center serves the entire community and that it is economically accessible to all.  This is Mickey Frank Thomas for Allegheny Mountain Radio.

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Mickey Frank Thomas

Mickey Frank began his radio career in October 2017 when he was offered the impossible-to-fill 9:00 p.m. to midnight slot on Saturdays, where his coordinated mix of pop, soft rock and R&B from the 60s through the 80s met with little acclaim. Deciding that he needed a more awake audience, he added the 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. afternoon drive slot to his workload when it became available in December 2018. Originally from Morton, Illinois, good, old Mickey Frank has lived in more places than he can count on his fingers and toes, but now resides in Highland County.  Email Mickey Frank at

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