By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A donation of $39,000 from a north-central Montana foundation means the Heritage Center is closer to being self-supporting, members of the H. Earl Clack Foundation board said today.
Clack Foundation president Elaine Morse said the money will go into the foundation's endowment fund, where it will boost monthly interest earnings. The endowment recently reached the $250,000 mark that allows the foundation to use the interest to help with operating expenses at the Heritage Center.
"I'm thrilled," Morse said. "It'll help a lot and it's money that won't ever go away. It'll be a nest egg for us."
It is not yet known how much extra interest the donation will produce every month, said Lynda Taplin, the foundation's treasurer. The building, which has been plagued by monthly shortfalls for years and also has a leaky roof and ailing boilers, will still be operating in the red, Taplin said, but the grant will bring it closer to being self-sufficient.
"Until we get a lot of the repairs done we're going to have a shortfall, but every little bit is helping us get closer," she said today.
Morse said that two years ago the group that donated the money promised to match whatever money the Clack Foundation could raise for its endowment fund to enable it to hit the $250,000 mark established by the foundation's bylaws.
At the time, the foundation was $78,000 short of $250,000, said Heritage Center building manager Debe Vandenboom. The group agreed to contribute up to $39,000.
The group wishes to remain anonymous, Morse said.
By September the Clack Foundation needed only $50,000 to reach its goals. The H. Earl Clack Museum Board voted to transfer $50,000 from the museum's endowment to the foundation endowment to bring it to the $250,000 mark. The funds were transferred in January.
That meant the foundation could begin using 80 percent of the interest toward the building's monthly expenses, Taplin said.
Morse applied for the $39,000 grant in writing about two weeks ago, Clack Foundation vice president Gary Wilson said.
Morse found out that her request had been answered earlier this week, she said. She announced it to the board during its regular meeting Wednesday night.
Until January, the foundation had been receiving $500 a month from the county to help with operating expenses. The interest from the endowment will help replace that $500, Taplin said.