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Fri, April 03

Railroad museum nabs $548,000 grant

Christmas arrived a week early for the Arizona State Railroad Museum.

"As of a few minutes ago, I am in receipt of formal notification from ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) that our TEA-21 grant application has been successful," said Al Richmond, president of the Arizona State Railroad Museum Foundation, Monday morning. "The Museum, via the City of Williams, now has its first significant funding in place to the tune of $548,000 — $500,000 from ADOT and $48,000 in matching funds from the City of Williams."

Three years ago was the first time the grant was applied for.

"The city is the sponsor for it," said Dennis Dalbeck, city manager. "It’s called a TEA-21 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Arizona Department of Transportation."

These Transportation Enhance-ment funds are to be directed toward rehabilitation of artifacts and development of 1,500 square feet of interpretive displays.

"This is to be used for construction purposes to start the building that’s on the 15-acres Max Biegert gave for the museum," Dalbeck said.

The location of the museum is directly across from the Grand Canyon Railway Depot on Grand Canyon Boulevard. The site is where Williams’ old roundhouse sat until the 1950s. Richmond estimates the museum, which is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt corporation, will cost $15 million to construct with another $925,000 needed annually to cover salaries for 11 administrative positions, five maintenance positions and docents as well as administrative costs, facilities management and collections management.

The previous and present Williams City Councils allocated the matching funds required to make this grant a reality, Richmond said.

"This grant has definitely not been a ‘one man band,’" he said. "It needs to be noted that the City has been a major partner in securing these funds and that mayor Ken Edes and city manager Dennis Dalbeck have personally taken part in the NACOG (Northern Arizona Council of Government) and ADOT board meetings and development of the application."

Dalbeck and Richmond will be attending meetings at ADOT in Phoenix in either late January or early February for administration of these funds.

Richmond said he looked closer to home for help with writing the application.

"My wife, Rich, as grant administrator for the museum, was the primary wordsmith for the 16-page application," he said.

Richmond said potential indoor and outdoor displays include static displays of a variety of steam and diesel locomotives and a variety of freight, passenger, and special purpose rolling stock from the Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, and BNSF and static displays of logging steam-powered locomotives and rolling stock.

Interpretive displays will portray railroad uses involving ranching, mining, logging, passenger transportation, freight, tourism, and track construction. Additional interpretive displays will be devoted to the Santa Fe Railway’s and Grand Canyon Railway’s impact on Grand Canyon National Park as well as Fred Harvey Company history and artifacts.

The next step in the process is acquiring operational funding to start the construction project.

"Hopefully, we will be able to find a means to utilize this $548,000 as leverage for the $1.2 million we need to guarantee our first year of operations," Richmond said. "Also, $150,000 is needed to hire on the museum director and chief curator.

"These individuals are critical to the planning process and initial development of the Museum."

Recently, a fund-raising drive was started to acquire this funding. Rich and Helen Gorney, owners of Banker’s Real Estate, recently donated $1,000 to the project.

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