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Martinsburg to sponsor children's museum

Council agrees to sponsor $290,000 federal grant awarded in 2008

Council agrees to sponsor $290,000 federal grant awarded in 2008

October 07, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- After nearly a year of waiting, planners of "for the kids, by George" children's museum at Caperton Station on Martin Street will be able to spend more than a quarter million of federal grant money, thanks to sponsorship by the City of Martinsburg.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the council agreed to sponsor a $290,000 federal grant awarded in 2008 to add a museum at the Washington Heritage Trail Welcome Center.

The trail is recognized by the Scenic Byways Program as a 136-mile loop in the Eastern Panhandle that takes tourists near 126 historical sites, ranging from a stone structure known as "George Washington's Bathtub" in the Town of Bath, W.Va. in Morgan County to the Washington family estates in Jefferson County.

Without a grant sponsor, the project could not proceed past U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's announcement of the funding last December, Project Director Jim Castleman said.

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An 80/20 grant from the National Scenic Byways Program, Castleman said the state would not issue a notice to proceed with the grant until the project named a sponsor.

Sponsors shoulder direct and indirect costs, if necessary, City Manager Mark Baldwin said.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation will administer the grant, he said.

The $290,000 must be matched by $72,000 of in-kind support from individuals and heritage-minded organizations in the community, he said.

Before the council vote, Baldwin advised the members that should the project be unable to generate $72,000 in-kind, the city could potentially have to shoulder the difference.

Castleman said he is not concerned about matching the grant.

"I'm tickled," he said. "I'm trying to stay calm and not climb up the walls with excitement."

It has been a long road to the unanimous vote Wednesday, he said.

"For the kids, by George" began in 1999 when grant money was secured to renovate the upper floors of Caperton Station, Castleman said.

While the city hopes to complete the project in as little as nine months, Castleman said he will be happy if it is done by 2011.

Plans for the education center include installing exhibits about the community's history with an emphasis on George Washington's connection to the region on first and second floors and an orientation gallery in the present passenger waiting room.

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