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Bone Creek campaign kick off a success

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Dozens of community members attended the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art's Nov. 13 fundraising campaign kickoff at the Ford Building in David City.

The ultimate goal of the Bone Creek Museum Campaign is to relocate the museum. While it will remain in David City, the plan is to move the museum from its current home at 575 E St. to the Ford Building, 312 Fifth St.

At the Nov. 13 event, members of the campaign steering committee shared renovation plans for the Ford Building, which has been unoccupied for many years.

"Restoring the historic Ford Building in downtown David City will secure 21,000 square feet for classroom opportunities, art galleries, events and more. This expansion would represent an increase of nearly 20,000 square feet," a Nov. 3 press release from the museum stated.

It won't come cheap, though. The museum recently received the first $20,000 allotment of a $100,000 grant from the Butler County Area Foundation Fund, bringing the campaign to approximately $1.1 million raised of its $3.9 million goal.

The total cost of renovating the Ford Building and relocating the museum is estimated to be roughly $8 million, but the museum is hoping that Legislative Bill (LB) 566 will help make up the other half of the funds.

At the Nov. 13 event, Museum Board of Directors President Ruth Thoendel said LB 566 -- also known as the Shovel-Ready Capital Campaign Investment Act -- could help the museum match donations dollar-for-dollar. Actual payments may be deferred through 2022, but to be eligible for the matching funds, donations must be pledged before Dec. 31, 2021. That's why the museum is urging people to contribute now, so they can double the impact of each donation.

Those who spoke at the event built upon the value of the museum as outlined in the Nov. 3 press release.

"The committee believes Bone Creek Museum’s expansion will open new doors for the entire Butler County region," the press release stated.

On Nov. 13 , Nebraska Community Foundation Chief Operating Officer K.C. Belitz said the museum's project, and others like it, are vital to the future of smaller towns like David City.

"We know that our next generation … is excited about the possibility of living in places like Butler County, like David City. What is it that's going to make them choose your small town? … I would suggest to you that projects like this are a significant part of the answer to that question," Belitz said. "You've got to have something that makes this place unique, that makes this place stand out."

Although the pandemic delayed the official launch of the campaign, the museum began preparing for the Nov. 13 kickoff more than a year ago.

Previously serving as a storage place for items belonging to the Butler County Historical Society, volunteers began emptying the Ford Building in 2020, presumably to make room for the renovations. According to publicly available property records, Anna Nolan and Allen Covault donated the Ford Building to the museum in July.

"This expansion project has been strategically planned over the course of more than a decade," Nolan, a museum co-founder, said in the Nov. 3 press release. "Our capital campaign was stalled by the coronavirus pandemic last year, and we are excited to see such exciting momentum in fundraising from local, state and national organizations who care about the art of the land."

Those who are interested in supporting the campaign can go to campaign.bonecreek.org.

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at molly.hunter@lee.net.

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