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Society makes Museum request
November 29, 2006
by James L. White, Times Staff
What should be done with the Boone County Heritage Museum? That's a question the Harrison Board of Education took up last week.
When Harrison School officials moved out of the Central Elementary building and into the Middle School, they also vacated the building that housed a computer lab.
The Boone County Historical Society operated the Heritage Museum in that building as well. It was granted a 25-year lease on the building, with an option of 25 more, to run the museum.
Now, Museum officials are asking for a "conservation easement" to create more clearly defined operation parameters and allow for some fund raising to fix up the building.
Norman Rowe, Historical Society president, said the Museum should know by next month if the building has been approved to be part of the National Registry of Historic Places.
But, he said, the Society is seeking donations to help fix up the building. It will be difficult to attract donations and grants, however, without some idea that the Museum will be operated in that building from now on.
Harrison lawyer Steve Davis was also on hand to address the board, and he said the building needs a lot of work. The attic contains what he called a "toxic waste site," much like the one in the Boone County Courthouse.
Rowe explained that three items had been specifically noted on an estimate three years ago: The building needs mortar work, more downspouts and a cap on the chimney. Those three items were estimated to cost about $80,000 to resolve, but that was three years ago. It might cost as much as $10,000 more at this time, Rowe said.
There is a possibility of a two-to-one matching grant, which means the Museum would have to come up with $30,000, Rowe said.
Davis said the Museum can't keep the building without grant money, so they need a fairly solid commitment that it will be available for the museum to use. And that commitment could be achieved through the conservation easement.
Board member Bill Boswell said he would like to see the Historical Society own the structure. "We're not going to do anything with the building," Boswell said.
When the lease agreement was entered into, Moody told the board the school couldn't just give the building away. He said that because the building was public property, it would have to be sold at fair market value, whatever that might be.
Boswell asked if there was any way the school could get around that requirement and donate the building to the Society. "The way to do it is to do it and not have anybody challenge it," Moody said.
Board member John Sherman said he couldn't imagine anyone in the tight-knit community would oppose such a move. Other members agreed. "We need to give it to them because we can't afford it either," Joe Melton said.
The board took no immediate action, but did move to accept a "reasonable" proposal from the Historical Society in the future.
The board also discussed the old Administration Building at 400 South Sycamore on Woodland Heights. That building, built in 19XX, had once housed the first Woodland Heights Elementary School. The school had used it as office space for administration. When the Middle School opened, the district remodeled the Central Elementary building and moved administration there, which left the building on South Sycamore vacant.
Moody told the board he had contacted Realtor Jerry Jackson to see if the building could be sold. Jackson agreed and the board voted to enter a standard real estate contract with Jackson.
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