LUMBERTON — The Robeson County History Museum needs to find additional funding if it is to remain open and continue to expand its services and programs, the museum’s curator and executive director told members of the county Board of Commissioners on Monday.
Blake Tyner updated the county on the programs and services the museum has provided since its creation during the county’s bicentennial celebration in 1987. He also outlined its future plans for keeping Robeson County’s history alive.
Tyner said that the museum, which is located at 101 S. First St., was only to remain open for one year, but thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers it is now in its 25th year. Tyner said the museum’s finances are such that it has not been able to pay rent since May. He also said that his “small salary remains usually two years behind at any given time.”
Tyner asked the board for additional county funding, as well as the use of the county’s grant writer to assist in obtaining grants. He also said the museum would benefit greatly from the hiring of a part-time manager, and that Catherine Floyd has been added to the museum’s board to help with fundraising.
‘This is a make it or break it year for us,” Tyner said.
Currently the museum receives about $1,500 a year from the county.
Tyner and about 15 people — including local historian and longtime museum supporter Helen Sharpe — were present at Monday’s meeting to show support for the museum.
Tyner said that the museum, one of only six in the state, has been chosen to host a traveling Smithsonian exhibit. The exhibit, Journey Stories, will be on display at the museum from Feb. 23 to April 6 of next year.
Although they did not commit any funding, the commissioners appeared to be supportive of the museum’s request.
Commissioner David Edge said that the museum and its programs are a vital tourist attraction for the county.
“People come here and not only view the exhibits, but they eat in our restaurants and spend money in our businesses,” he said.
The commissioners on Monday also:
n Approved the continuation of two grants from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. The grants pay for the salaries, training and equipment for two DWI officers and two traffic officers.
The four-year grant, now in its third year, for the two DWI officers is $124,000, with a match from the county of $37,200. The three-year grant, now in its final year, for the two traffic officers is for $108,000, with a county match of $104,000.
The officers have been used in high crime areas and to assist the sheriff’s Narcotics Division.
n Heard a presentation from Dominique Boyd, of the state Department of Transportation’s Planning Branch, concerning the town of Pembroke’s proposed Comprehensive Transportation Plan. The commissioners were not requested to take any action.
n Heard from Herman Locklear, director of career and technical education for the Public Schools of Robeson County, who provided an update to the board on an upcoming Career Expo and requested county funding for the Robeson County Career Center.
The Expo, which targets high school seniors, is going to be held at the Southeastern N.C. Agricultural Events Center on Nov. 15. About 2,000 students are expected to attend.
Locklear said that county funding for the Career Center could help provide training in areas such as welding and automotive mechanics that could prevent county young people from leaving the county to find work.
n Approved a request from the Lumberton Regional Airport for $6,908 as the county’s match for the Acquisition & Obstruction Removal Runway 5 approach grant.
n Heard an update from Commissioner Jerry Stephens about the state taking over the collection of motor vehicle taxes beginning in March. The state’s takeover of the collection of vehicle taxes in all counties is expected to boost overall county tax collection rates.
“People need to be aware that as of March if you don’t pay your vehicle taxes, you won’t be able to renew your plates,’ Stephens said.
n Heard from Landa Gaddy that her organization, Youth Self-Improvement Inc., will be holding a “unity meeting” in Fairmont on Thursday at Rosenwald Elementary School at 6 p.m.