IW Museum rises from blow

Published 7:28 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sufficient money has been raised to see the Isle of Wight County Museum through the fiscal year, says Lee Duncan, president of the Isle of Wight Historical Society.

The society set a goal of raising $26,000 for operating funds after the county, facing a budget shortfall, defunded its historic resources division, Duncan explained.

“It became apparent that the museum was not going to be funded for 2014-2015,” Duncan said.

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Recognizing the importance of the local history repository on Main Street, the town of Smithfield committed $100,000 to staff the museum, and the county decided to fund the building, at a cost of $30,000, according to Duncan.

“(But) it left them with no operating budget,” he said.

The museum reached its $26,000-goal with $5,000 from the museum’s foundation and the historical society and the rest from “private citizens in the county and as far away as California,” Duncan said.

“We are thrilled that we were able to successfully raise money to take care of the museum’s operating budget for 12 months,” he said.

According to a “thank you” letter from Duncan on Facebook, the private donations came from more than 70 citizens, also hailing from Colorado and Tennessee.

Delegate Rick Morris, a retired judge, an author, military veterans, a baker and a real estate agent were among the private donors.

“Most of the donors were quiet types — not members of the local government or presidents of corporations,” Duncan wrote.

“They were just folks. Folks who can now say, ‘I am an owner of the Isle of Wight County Museum.’”