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Transportation museum sees increased allocation in state budget

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SPENCER — The N.C. Transportation Museum will have more money this year because of the state budget recently passed by the N.C. General Assembly.

The state budget, passed last week, includes money for a number of local matters, but it also increased the museum’s budget by $100,000. That money will be used for maintenance at the museum, said Kevin Cherry, deputy secretary at the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Cherry said the museum saw a “substantial reduction” in state appropriations as a result of the Great Recession. There are a number of needs related to maintenance, Cherry said.

“We have made up a lot of those funds through increased ticket sales and that sort of thing, but we still need more funds for maintenance,” Cherry said. “We’ve got 60 acres and a lot of big buildings, so we need money to maintain those things.”

Maintenance projects could include painting, fixing roofs, paving over potholes and other things, he said.

“I wish I could say it’s for more fun things, but if we don’t take care of the buildings we won’t have a place to have fun,” Cherry said.

He said the state appropriation to the museum was more than $1 million before the Great Recession. Including the recent increase, the appropriation in the 2017-18 fiscal year will be $443,000, he said.

Cherry said the latest allocation increase occurred because of lobbying by local legislators.

The total state allocation, however, is relatively small compared to the overall budget of the Transportation Museum. Cherry said the museum raises roughly 95 percent of the total funds it takes to operate the facility.

Asked recently about the increased allocation, former Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34, said the museum has become a model for others across the state.

“I think we’ve seen the incredible impact it has on the community and the community’s involvement with the museum,” Brock said. “This wasn’t a pork-barrel project.”

Brock added that the Transportation Museum is well-run.

“I think, in the long-term picture, things are moving in the right direction,” Brock said.

Other local items that received funding in the state budget include hiring an additional assistant district attorney in Rowan County; $135,000 for downtown revitalization money for the Davie County town of Cooleemee; $100,000 for downtown revitalization in Kannapolis; $100,000 for the East Spencer Housing Authority; and $35,000 for ongoing work in China Grove’s Hanna Park, according to local legislators.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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