By Tim Leeds
A Havre-area resident today pledged to make a donation that will prevent the loss of the Heritage Center in Havre.
The donor, who wished to remain anonymous, came into the Clack Museum this morning and pledged to donate $15,000 to the foundation, said Gary Wilson, vice president of the H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum Foundation. The foundation must make a $15,000 lease payment by Aug. 30 but hasn't had the money to cover it.
"What's going to happen is we're not going under, at least not in August," Wilson added.
Wilson and foundation board member Ardelle Hurlburt both said the foundation is still dependent on the public for continuing operating expenses.
"This solves one problem. We still need support," Wilson said. "We're not out of the woods yet,"
The foundation entered an agreement with the city in 1996 to lease the former post office in Havre. Under the agreement, the foundation must make payments in addition to the annual lease payment to the city. The city uses the additional money to make payments to the U.S. Postal Service to purchase the former post office.
The foundation announced last week that it had no money available to make the final additional payment of $15,000 and that without the payment, the building could revert back to the U.S. Postal Service. The foundation appealed to people in the area to contribute to the foundation through donations, memberships, rental of postal boxes in the Heritage Center, or any way they could to help it raise the money needed.
Wilson said other residents have contributed about $3,500 to the foundation in the last few days. He added that while those donations plus the $15,000 pledge give the foundation the money it needs for the lease payment, it won't make the Heritage Center self-supporting yet.
"The Heritage Center is not saved unless we can continue raising money to support it and getting grants to improve it into the cultural center it was intended for," Hurlburt said.
Hurlburt said the current amount pledged and donated would pay the lease and the insurance bill that is due next month, but won't pay other monthly bills the foundation has.
"There isn't anything that's carrying over to September," she added.
Hurlburt said the foundation is hopeful about solving its financial difficulties. She said the members are very optimistic because of the way the community has responded and how well the board has worked together.
The foundation uses the center to house the Clack Museum and cultural activities. Other goals of the foundation include preserving of the Heritage Center building, providing financial resources and facilities for the Wahkpa Chu'gn bison kill site, and encouraging cultural historical, educational and artistic activities and opportunities.
The foundation leases out space in the Heritage Center, but Wilson said that even if all spaces were leased, that would not be enough to fund all of the foundation's operations.
"We've never made anywhere near enough off the leases," Hurlburt said.
Wilson said people have told him in the past they would like to contribute, but weren't seeing enough cultural or educational events sponsored by the foundation to justify it. He said the foundation is setting some events in place, including Native American arts and crafts classes for children the next two Saturdays in the center. Other events include celebrity luncheons, lectures and a children's hands-on tour of the bison kill.