George Colbenson (second from right), president of Friends of Forestville, reads a prepared statement at a press conference at Historic Forestville on Thursday announcing that the historic village would remain open during the summer. Pictured in front of the cameras are Carol Jean Meyer, Earnest Meyer, Charles Pautler, Colbenson and David Foster.
“The good news is that we have met our short term goal of raising $50,000,” Charles Pautler, Site Manager at Historic Forestville, told the Fillmore County Board on Tuesday. “I’m here to thank you personally for supporting this effort.” The county donated $5,000 toward keeping the historic village open.
Pautler, who said he was both humbled and joyful over the fundraising effort, said the site will maintain a three day a week schedule for the months of July and August and that the Friends of Forestville will begin trying to raise an additional $60,000 to keep the site open year round.
Faced with budget cuts from the state of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) proposed closing the site effective June 30 unless local funds could be raised.
“These past three weeks, it’s been like a traveling circus,” Pautler said, as he and others took the Forestville show on the road to anyone who would listen. Pautler credited “lots of people” for working to keep the historic site open.
“This gives us some breathing room,” Pautler said. “We’re happy to keep the site open to deliver a quality education program to school children and visitors alike.”
But Pautler cautioned that this will be a reduced program. “The program we put on next week (July 1), will be a different program than what we see this week,” Pautler said.
County Commissioner Chuck Amunrud echoed Pautler’s comments. “I want to thank all the organizations, townships, cities and individuals who have stepped forward to say ‘this is important’,” Amunrud said.
At a press conference held in front of the Meighen Store at Forestville on Thursday, Friends of Forestville president George Colbenson thanked the many organizations, communities and individuals that helped keep Historic Forestville open. As of Thursday, $53,000 had been raised.
When asked if he had confidence that they would be able to raise another $60,000, Colbenson said, “We raised $50,000 in 19 days. I have a lot of confidence that we can do anything.”
Pautler said that it is the intent of the Historical Society to resume full funding of Historic Forestville in two to four years, when, hopefully, the state budget situation will be better.
But Pautler said that he valued the relationships developed over the last few weeks and sees them continuing beyond the fiscal crisis.
The seven sites earmarked for closure by MHS state-wide have all managed to find funds to keep their sites open through the summer.
The next deadline for Friends of Forestville will be to raise the $60,000 by October 15. This would ensure that the site remains open through June 30.
Pautler invited everyone out for the annual 4th of July celebration. There will be an old fashioned baseball game and the Forestville Brass Band will play.
“What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with a baseball game,” Pautler said.
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