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Crawford County CVB proposes funding for three museums - KOAM TV 7

Crawford County CVB proposes funding for three museums

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CRAWFORD COUNTY, KANSAS - Summer time means tourism time, and the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau is thinking of a way to revitalize history.  Recently, a museum in Pittsburg closed because a volunteer stepped down from their position.  But now, a proposal calls for more money to attract employment and visitors to three museums in the area.  CVB workers think their proposal is worth the price.

Jerry Lomshek shows off some of the faces and artifacts from times past that helped shape Southeast Kansas.

"It's different than the rest of the State of Kansas," says Lomshek.

Lomshek, with the Miners Hall Museum in Franklin, Kansas, says his museum averages about five thousand visitors a year, from 48 states and 10 countries.

"You know, it's free to the public.  And we want it that way, so that everybody has access to the history here," says Lomshek.

Lomshek says there are people wanting to search family history, going through the once prosperous coal mining industry in Southeast Kansas.

"We have a research library here where they can research a lot of the miners who worked in this area, or the coal camps, or the coal companies," says Lomshek.

A few miles away in Pittsburg, there's another museum, and one other in Girard.  Both are closed now, because county officials say in general, there are fewer sources of income.

B.J. Harris with the Crawford County CVB says, "The Convention and Visitors Bureau business, in attracting tourists and visitors, is all about facilities.  What do you have to offer?  What attractions do you have to offer?" 

Crawford County's CVB is offering a way to help ensure Franklin's museum stays open, while reopening the other two museums.  Each museum would receive about $25,000 a year, which includes general county tax revenue, and motel sales tax revenue from the Crawford County CVB.

"We have Carnie Smith Stadium, we have great facilities, and it drives tourism.  If you have the same types of facilities for historical travel, it's going to drive tourism," says Harris.

The proposal is a mere idea right now, but one that Lomshek hopes eventually withstands the test of time.

"That's not our intent, to ever charge for admission.  Because like I said, we want the history of this area to be available to everybody," says Lomshek.

Workers with each museum would get to choose how to spend the $25,000.  There are requirements of getting the money, though, including having a non-profit status with the Kansas Secretary of State, and not having a reserve fund of more than $100,000.  Crawford County commissioners will discuss this proposal again at a meeting next week Friday.

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