Grant for ag museum in jeopardy

February 06, 1997


Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - The Washington County Agricultural Education Center must raise another $270,000 by June 1 or risk losing part of a state matching grant for construction of an agricultural history museum at the center, officials said Thursday.

The center has raised only about $80,000 cash toward the $350,000 state matching grant. In-kind contributions don't count toward the total, officials said.

"We're still very optimistic," said agricultural center board President John Staub. "There are some business people and corporations that have not responded yet, but we're certainly hopeful."


Staub said this opportunity for funding won't be available again.

"This is a one-time thing with the state. They made it very clear that we can't go back and ask for more money, so we have to do it now."

The center directors have asked the Washington County delegation to the General Assembly for help in getting the deadline extended, Staub said.

If the center can't raise an amount close to the full $350,000, the expansion plans will have to be scaled back, Staub said.

"The design that we have in mind includes a main facility and up to six or more smaller buildings," Staub said. "If we wind up with only the main building to start with, so be it."

Staub said the group hasn't pressed the Washington County Commissioners for the matching funds because of the tight budget constraints facing the county.

Donations to the nonprofit organization are tax deductible, Staub said.

Former county extension agent Richard Schukraft is heading up the center's fund-raising effort.

"We need to show that the community will support this," he said. The center will have a display at Valley Mall through Saturday, he said.

"We just feel that preserving the agricultural heritage of this area is extremely important," he said.

Schukraft said that he and others in the county had met 22 years ago to discuss the possibility of an agricultural museum.

In addition to the proposed museum, a number of other projects are under way or in the planning stage. Those include a MIHI recreation area, additional parking, picnic pavilions, a petting zoo, and a rifle range.

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