Othello museum requests funds from Adams County

Apr. 2—OTHELLO — The March 27 Adams County Commissioners' meeting in Othello featured an update from the Othello Community Museum on its operations, as well as a request for financial assistance for the museum to start its own website.

Secretary for the museum LuAnn Morgan introduced the request.

"What we're asking of the commissioners is to help us fund the startup of the website, and provide a yearly stipend for the maintenance and upkeep," Morgan said. "The initial cost is going to be about $1,500, and then yearly will be about $500 after that. And we're not expecting the commissioners to foot the entire bill, but anything that can be provided would be a great help to us because we survive strictly on donations and any grants that we're able to secure."

Morgan said the county used to fund the museum but has not for some time.

"We realize the 2024 budget's already been approved and set, but we're hoping that you might be willing to help us a little bit," Morgan said. "We've already arranged for someone who's going to put this website together for us and then maintain it over the years, but the initial startup cost, of course, is always higher."

Morgan also went over some of the museum's history and its place in Othello.

"We are specifically a historical museum and our mission is to preserve the history of Othello and the surrounding area, which takes in quite a portion of Adams County," she said. "Other than the couple of years we were under quarantine for COVID, we have always enjoyed a steady number of visitors from around the United States ... We're open during the (Sandhill) Crane Festival, and each Saturday afternoon June through September, and by special appointment."

The museum has several active projects, Morgan said.

"Each year we focus on a different part of the history of this area, and this summer we're highlighting the area of irrigation and farming. Part of that will also be a children's activity day featuring storytime and craft projects for the kids," she said. "We're currently working on a number of projects, including remodeling our foyer, repairing the south portion of the sidewalk and creating additional promotional materials ... We're also going to start fundraising to add heat and air conditioning to the building."

The new website is one of these projects.

"Part of our promotion is going to be a website, and we'll use that to increase our presence, mainly here, but (also) across the nation," she said. "If someone wants to come visit our area and they look to see what's here, they'll see that our museum is here and we'll include on the website links to different activities and things."

Commissioner Jay R. Weise elaborated on the county's restrictions for its Tourism Enhancement Fund, which has to be used for advertising, publishing or distributing information for the purpose of attracting visitors or encouraging tourism expansion.

"What you have already said I believe fits (the funding requirements), so there's no argument on that, to help the website, so that's a positive. And actually what you requested is even a positive because I went back and looked at our revenues," Weise said. "The only revenue we get is from the RV parking at the (fairgrounds) because there's no other hotel or motel in the county; they're all in the cities."

Weise said the county should be able to help fund the museum using the tourism fund.

"We're sitting with $13,000 in there right now," Weise said, "so I would say that I don't think we would have a problem getting you started up and off to the races at all, I wouldn't think, because it fits the concept ... and we have the ability to do it."

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.