Tuesday, May 7, 2013
A couple dozen people showed up at Dorchester County Council’s meeting Monday to plead for emergency funds to keep the Summerville Dorchester Museum open.
The museum has enough money to remain open until halfway through the year, said Judy Burn, president of the board of directors.
She requested $4,999 from the county, but council voted to award $2,500 immediately from its contingency fund and look into increasing its award to the museum from the accommodations tax fund.
Council had another request of more than $2,000 from its contingency fund, which was down to $7,300, and some members were reluctant to spend all but $100 of the fund with two months still remaining in the fiscal year.
Councilman Larry Hargett, who brought the issue to council, promised the request for additional funding would return soon.
Councilman George Bailey said he met with museum director Chris Ohm, and toured the museum several years ago, and was impressed.
“I don’t know how your director does it … he’s a marvelous individual,” Bailey said.
Burn said the town of Summerville gave the museum $22,500 this year toward its yearly $44,000 budget.
The museum has opened a new Native American exhibit, is constructing a new exhibit of locally collected fossils, is forming a partnership with Dr. Ed West concentrating on African-American history in Dorchester County and held an archaeology field school for middle school students last spring, Burn said.
Summerville Mayor Bill Collins made an appearance to advocate for the museum.
Over its 20-year history, the museum has received $237,000 from the town, with $165,000 of that coming in the last 10 years, he said.
The town also leases the building to the museum for $1 per year and provided $15,000 this year for repairs, he said.
The museum is an integral part of the community, Collins said.
Realtor Robert Pratt also spoke. He was one of the founders of the museum, and said he intended to help the museum with private fundraising.