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Museum needs to gamble

July 20, 2006

In the business world, creditors will only extend funds to companies or individuals they consider good risks. Those whose ventures start slowly have two choices - do something bold to jumpstart the effort or fold up the tent and go home.

Sad to say, that's where Discovery Station at Hagerstown Inc. is right now. Officials of the interactive science museum went to the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday to ask for $30,000.

That would be in addition to the $20,000 the commissioners contributed from their FY 2006 budget.

The commissioners were hesitant, because the museum's numbers don't look good. Seven months into its budget year, the museum has taken in only 24 percent of the revenue it had budgeted.

Discovery Station officials had hoped to get $100,000 in corporate contributions, but so far, only $1,550 has come in. Individual donations were budgeted at $45,000, but only $5,756 has been received.

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If the commissioners or other donors don't come through, Discovery Station's future is in doubt. It's time for some bold action. Here are some suggestions:

Get some business leaders - the members of the county's Economic Development Commission, for example - to host a reception for corporate representatives at Discovery Station, so they can see what they're being asked to support.

With the help of the City of Hagerstown and downtown businesspeople, plan a Discovery Station Saturday.

On that day, admission would be free and businesses would provide discounts to those who had ticket stubs showing that they had attended.

Not only would it educate people on what Discovery Station is all about, but it would also show citizens that a fun, educational experience and a meal with a child or grandchild is a nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

Yes, gambles cost money and in this case, it will be a lot of effort.

But what else is left? At least show people what they'll be missing before it's too late.

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