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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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FAHI in need of funding
$1,400 plus cost of repairs needed

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

With the holiday season approaching, the Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) has a long wish list.

The agency is within $1,400 of paying off a loan on a new building to house its museum and cultural center, but more funds are needed to complete repairs, including a heating system.

“Our most urgent need” is replacing the heating system, said FAHI board chairman Curtis Millner Sr. He does not know how much that may cost.

A couple of people have checked the system in hopes of repairing it, and both have concluded the system is “too old” to repair “and it will probably be less expensive to get a new system,” Millner said.

The agency is in dire need of the $1,400 to pay the balance of a promissory note on the former Imperial Savings and Loan Association Building, which the organization bought in the spring for $35,000 to house its African American Museum and Cultural Center, Millner said.

About half of the cost of buying the building at 211 Fayette St. was paid for by community donations/organizations, and the agency has worked to pay down the balance, Millner said.

“We have an ongoing fund drive with the hope of raising $75,000” to continue making needed repairs to the building, set up displays and pay a director and an assistant director for one year, he said.

To date, FAHI has raised $25,000 of that and received pledges for about $12,000 more, Millner said. The agency also is exploring grant opportunities.

FAHI had planned to be moved into the new building by now, but problems with it were found “that we had not anticipated,” Millner said.

Some of the problems have been fixed. For instance, the floor beneath what was the cashiers counter was weak in places and had to be replaced, Millner said. “Labor and material was donated, and that work is completed,” he added.

Gutters were stolen from the downspouts, and the water that got inside the building damaged a wall, he said. Labor and materials also were donated for that project, and that work was completed.

“We had to install emergency exit lights over all of the exits,” Millner said. That project also was checked off the list courtesy of donated lights and labor.

A side door that had been donated had to be replaced after glass was broken out of the door, Millner said. That repair also was made.

Rear doors and frames were replaced, also thanks to donated materials and labor, he said.

Floor covering also was required in some rooms, and that work continues, Millner said.

Most recently, Millner said he learned that flooring in the part of the building that opens onto Spencer Street also must be replaced.

Representatives from Martinsville also are being sought to serve on FAHI’s board of directors. To be eligible, individuals must commit to attend at least one business meeting each month, volunteer on special projects/events and be a dues-paying member of the organization, Millner said.

If that list isn’t enough, FAHI also needs to hire a full-time director, Millner said.

To be considered, applicants must have a desire for an African American Museum & Cultural Center in Martinsville; be computer literate; be able or willing to learn to write grants; plan events; and work with public and government officials, Millner said.

“We see our future museum and cultural center as an added attraction to the Fayette Area corridor since it will have a clear view of the new” facilities to be built to house the New College Institute, Millner said. The museum also will be located only two blocks from the medical school proposed by Dr. Noel Boaz, Millner said.

“We hope to give our diverse population a better look into how other elements of our society have contributed to this community and nation,” and “add our museum to the list of other African American Museums in Virginia and North Carolina,” he said.

Millner was referring to museums in Wytheville, Lynchburg and Richmond. A new one is being planned for Danville, and a museum is located in Greensboro.

To make a monetary contribution or donate time or materials to FAHI, contact Millner at 638-7503.

All contributions are appreciated, and Millner said that all donations — even those of labor — are tax-deductible.


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