By Tim Leeds
The Clack Museum Foundation board received the $15,000 donation pledged by an anonymous local donor and voted Wednesday to make the final mortgage payment on the Heritage Center.
The foundation was notified this week that the U.S. Postal Service had offered to recast the mortgage on the old post office, splitting the final $15,000 payment into two payments, $7,500 in 2001 and $7,500 in 2002.
Gary Wilson, vice president of the foundation board, said today the board voted to pay the entire balance this year, to remove the debt and to avoid any problems making the $7,500 payment next year.
"Besides, that's what the (donor) gave us the money for," he added.
The foundation actually leases the building from the city of Havre, which uses the lease payment to make a mortgage payment to the Postal Service. The building once housed the Havre post office.
The foundation pays $1,000 a year. Additional lease payments of $5,000, $5,000, $10,000, $10,000 and $15,000 were due by Aug. 30 in the five years of the contract. The final payment was due at the end of this month.
"We'll have a little mortgage burning celebration" once the foundation receives official notice from the city that the debt is paid off, Wilson said.
The foundation said in mid-July it did not have the money to make the payment and that the Heritage Center could be lost.
The foundation reported it had received donations of $18,500 by July 26. Board member Ardelle Hurlburt said that would only be enough to pay the expenses through August and that the board is now engaging in additional fund raising.
The Aug. 30 payment was the big hurdle, Wilson added, but the foundation must still pay its month-to-month expenses, so help from people in the community is still needed.
"It's not easy but things are easier," he said. "We really need major help for a couple years until we get this turned around, and we are turning this around."
Wilson said a major goal will be to promote people joining the foundation or renting the former post office boxes in the Heritage Center.
A committee meets tonight to plan activities the foundation will have at the Great Northern Fair. Wilson said a space at the fair has been donated for the foundation to use. He added that the foundation is trying to find someone who would be interested in donating some beef it could use for a raffle.
He said they are also planning other fund-raisers after the fair. The foundation gave up on using a "kiss-the-pig" fund-raiser when it found out the local Red Cross is already planning to use that event, but other moneymakers are being considered.
Wilson said the foundation is continuing its cultural events for the community, which have been pretty successful. He said 38 people attended Tuesday night's lecture. He added that lectures, celebrity luncheons and other events are planned through November.