The first special grants from the Museum and Heritage Fund tax have been awarded, with close to $20,000 going to local museums and historical organizations.
The largest grant went to the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg, which requested $14,400 toward a $315,000 project to turn Oak Creek's original City Hall building into a museum and visitors center. The society's request for this year was fully funded, but the Routt County Board of Commissioners decided to wait on approving a second request for $14,000 in 2005.
The other grants awarded were $2,795 to the Hahn's Peak Area Historical Society to restore the "Bear Cage Jail" and stabilize the museum's floors, $604 for the Yampa Egeria Historical Society to restore the town's jail, and $2,000 to Historic Routt County to build a Web site and publish brochures.
Only one grant ---- a $500 request from the Community Agriculture Alliance to establish an old-fashioned horseshoe-pitching contest at the county fair -- was denied.
Those grants represent a small part of the $210,000 the countywide mill levy, which was approved last November, should collect this year. Most of the funds are divided among historic groups and museums according to where they are in the county.
The Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs and the Hayden Heritage Center did not submit applications for the first granting cycle.
The Routt County Museum and Heritage Fund Advisory Board discussed the applications at a June 8 meeting, but county commissioners had the final say at their meeting Tuesday.
Because this granting cycle is the first for the mill levy, county commissioners said it was important to consider what sort of precedent their decisions would set.
The Community Agriculture Alliance's request for $500 was not approved because it did not meet criteria for awarding grants, county commissioners said.
Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she was "very concerned about us providing funding to something in the very beginning that is so borderline."
County commissioners did decide to donate $250 to the Community Agriculture Alliance out of county discretionary funds to help the horseshoe pitching contest get off the ground.
Historic Routt County's request for $5,000 for an $11,000 project to develop a Web site and other public education materials, among other goals, was only partially funded. County commissioners approved the funding board's recommendation that $2,000 be awarded to the group.
The remaining three requests were funded in full with less discussion. The award to the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg is contingent on approval of a $235,000 grant requested from the State Historical Society. A decision on that request is expected by the end of the month.
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