The Transylvania Times -

Military Museum's Location Up In The Air - Brevard NC


November 15, 2018

A decision on whether to extend the WNC Military History Museum’s lease of the old county administration building was tabled Tuesday by the Board of Commissioners.

The museum’s current lease ends June 30, 2019, and those who operate the museum were seeking to extend it through June of 2021, while a fundraising campaign to help pay for a permanent location gets underway.

Museum officials hope to have a permanent museum home in Transylvania County in two to three years.

On Tuesday, comm-issioners asked for the issue to be looked at again during their next meeting on Nov. 29, the last meeting before Commission Chairman Larry Chapman and Commissioner Kelvin Phillips step down and are replaced by Will Cathey and David Guice.

In requesting for the matter to be tabled, Commissioners Mike Hawkins and Page Lemel both wanted more clarity and information on the legal requirements about the agreement process from County Attorney Misti Bass.

Before deciding to table any decision, Chapman made a motion to extend the lease through 2021. Phillips seconded the motion.

Before the vote, Commissioner Jason Chappell thanked the museum staff for its work, saying he supported its mission. He had concerns, however, that the two new commissioners — Cathey and Guice — will be sworn onto the board in early December.

He said he would “prefer” that the “new board” make the decision on the lease.

Bass then mentioned that granting a lease on county property for more than a year would require the county first having to advertise such a possibility at least 30 days prior to it being decided, allowing the public to know about the rent amount and the lease requirements.

Bass said the 30-day publication requirement would not be necessary if the lease was extended by just one year.

County Manager Jaime Laughter also suggested, however, that public notification may not be necessary since the museum is currently operating at the site as a nonprofit contract with the county and not as a lease agreement, which falls under different legal requirements.

In response to Chappell’s concerns, Chapman said the board recently voted on the courthouse and didn’t leave the decision until the “new” board was in place and that the current board initially voted to lease the county space to the museum.

Chapman’s vote failed 3-2, with he and Phillips voting in favor.

Chappell then asked the museum’s curator, Emmett Casciato, about the plans for a new site.

Casciato said it would be “hard to raise money” if the museum is not open.

As well as raising funds, the museum plans to seek grants and has been offered free architectural plans from local architect Mike Domokur.

While the new site is being built, the museum hopes to be in a smaller location.

The current goal is be build a roughly 4,000-square-foot location and add to it over time. The commissioners’ chamber Tuesday was packed, including many who were in support of the museum’s efforts. All of the speakers during the 15-minute public comment period at the start of the meeting spoke in favor of extending the museum’s lease.

Casciato then gave a presentation on the museum.

He talked about the museum’s mission and activities. The museum’s mission is to “honor, educate and preserve.” The museum has an “Honor Wall” that includes more than 218 plaques, where families have honored their loved ones.

The museum also publishes two stories a month in The Transylvania Times about Vietnam veterans and conducts monthly lectures and other events that honor living or dead veterans from other conflicts.

Other activities include publishing a book about World War II veterans, recording veterans’ war-time experiences, and conducting tours for school children and youth and senior groups.

Preservation efforts include storing and exhibiting various military history artifacts.

A recent donation was every weekly Life magazine published from 1939 to 1946.

(More about the meeting will appear in Monday’s paper.)


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