In March 2013 after receiving non-profit status, the Old Ben Franklin Building was purchased by museum members. In addition to paying for the building, the museum corporation was required to pay fines incurred by previous owners, plus $18,862 in school district, city and county back taxes (money which is reinvested locally).
"Just three days prior to the April 17 explosion, we held our first fundraiser at the KC Hall and celebrated the community's remarkable support of this project. After the explosion it was determined we'd moved too far forward and had too much momentum to put the museum project on hold 'for a better time,' so we elected to continue our efforts," Hutyra explained. "It's just difficult to reignite enthusiasm once a project is set aside for a year or two."
Budget committee chairman David Urbanovsky shared information on funding matters. "Our biggest break came with Kenny Steinocher's donation of the building's new heating and cooling system. SPJST, VFW, West Knights, West Kiwanis Club with its Merry Czechmas event, Tucker Lumber Company and the Willie Motis Foundation all have made generous contributions. And those new kids on the block, Slovacek's, have been remarkable with their support."
"West High graduates," he continued, "who now live in larger cities are some of our biggest financial supporters, but honestly, every $5 and $10 donation or memorial is greatly appreciated. It all adds up."
Urbanovsky stressed two points in particular. "We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives no formal funding from the city, county, or state. No tax-payer dollars are being used for museum renovations."
Hutyra is excited about progress already made and described work completed. "After buying the building, we replaced the roof. Floors were repaired and covered with overlayment, and then needed interior and exterior brick work was addressed. All interior demo work is now complete. Bsides roof and brick work, all labor has been provided by museum members and community volunteers, men and women alike. The hard work has been made a bit easier with Village Bakery's offering of kolaces for our mid-morning breaks."
Board member Al Vanek explained, "We're currently in the process of framing walls and for safety, rewiring the building with technical guidance from John Hurtick. After that, energy efficient foam insulation for ceilings and walls and air conditioning will be installed. Drywall and painting are expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2014. Frankly, how quickly we move forward is completely budget-driven.
The History of West Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Donations are greatly appreciated.
President: Nancy Hykel
Vice President: Joe Mashek
Secretary: Cynthia Zahirniak
Treasurer: Patricia Cloud
Member: Lillian Filer
Member: Evelyn Skopik
Member: Nancy Vidrine
Member: Al Vanek
Member: Kay Sulak
Honorary Member: Georgia Hutyra
Honorary Member: Daniel Moravec