Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Old Slave House Funding Update

Jim Muir's story in today's Southern Illinoisan has literally generated interest around the world for the Old Slave House after UPI sent out a story a little over four hours ago. It's already on the websites of the Washington Times, Science Daily and, my favorite so far, Monsters and Critics.com, a site based in Glasgow, Scotland.

[UPDATE: It's now reached India at the WebIndia123.com site.]

The good news for me is that both Jim and UPI mention the name of my book, Slaves, Salt, Sex & Mr. Crenshaw.

The bad news is that UPI misread Jim's story and has incorrectly labled the house as a station on the Underground Railroad....

[PHONE RINGS. Intrepid blogger picks up phone.]

UPI is sending out a correction. Just got off the phone with them.

[UPDATE: Here's the corrected version.]

Next issue. Is the governor coming down or not?

Last week I was told he wasn't part of the delegation, but Jim had it in the story that he is. However an earlier phone call from a tourism official who was trying to find out about tomorrow's event had been told that he couldn't. The latest news release from the state doesn't mention him and the journalist I talked with doubted he would come back since he toured the region yesterday.

[In Jim's defense, he was working on the story last week for the Saturday or Sunday edition. That may have been the current plan as of last week.]

The most interesting thing about the article was the reference to the site actually reopening.

Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Norris City, announced last week the state will appropriate $150,000 in funding to renovate the facility that was built more than 170 years ago and has been vacant for nearly a decade.

Phelps said the funding will be used for a twofold purpose.

"We have secured the $150,000 to help renovate the Old Slave House and to also help get it up and running," Phelps said.

Later on he hinted when it could reopen.

Phelps said he expects the Old Slave House to be "up and running" by the end of this calendar year.

As I noted last week, I'm still not sure where the money is coming from. I rechecked my notes from December when I called on the status for possible funding. At that time I was told the money is coming from previously-appropriated unspent allocated funds.

Because of the amount involved I thought it was the capital money Phelps had been working on with the governor last spring. This suggests old money that was still in the hopper. Just how old no one can tell me.

Better yet, it's looking like the money is coming from the General Revenue fund which would allow the governor to not only use the funding for capital projects like any renovations, but also for staffing, a necessity if they want to open before the end of the year.

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