Marshals Museum adds $5 million to fundraising total, 1,500 expected for U.S. Rep. Gowdy speech

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 1,081 views 

The United States Marshals Museum (USMM) grew its fundraising an estimated $5 million since the last Talk Business & Politics report in November. USMM CFO Randy Philpot said the facility is $22.2 million away from its $58.6 million fundraising target, having raised over $34 million as of Jan. 5, 2017.

That number was $29 million five months ago when USMM CEO Patrick Weeks announced the facility’s grand opening date.

Philpot addressed the Museum’s Board of Directors on Tuesday (March 14) at a meeting from the Mercy Clinic Administrative Offices Board Room, noting the facility had approximately $14.8 million stowed away at the end of February, most of which were in one-year certificates of deposit (CDs) with “a little bit in a money market just to keep us liquid.”

Museum staff will work to navigate maturation rates in the next few months as they eye the possibility of dirt work this summer, construction next year and into the following for a hard open date of Sept. 24, 2019. Philpot said the Museum has paid out approximately $1.5 million in pre-construction costs thus far, adding there were $8.5 million in total pledges, including $3.4 million “conditional” pledges yet to show up on the books.

“Projections are that it’s likely in the next four to five months, we could be between $18 million to $20 million (in collections) before we end up making the first payment on dirt work,” Philpot said.

According to the financial summary overview on its website, the Museum needs an estimated $35.884 million for the facility; $12.3 million for exhibits; a $4 million Endowment; $2.977 million in contingencies;  and $3.5 million for one-year operating expenses, all adding up to the $58.6 million number. Five months ago, the site listed a little over $29 million in “committed fundraising,” leaving approximately $33 million needed for completion.

In a special guest commentary for Talk Business & Politics in July, Jim Dunn, president of the USMM Foundation, said the executive board first took up the fundraising challenge in June 2009. The estimated budget for the planned facility at that time was $22.5 million. The remainder of the estimated then-$50 million capital budget also included site work of $2.5 million, architectural and exhibit design, exhibit fabrication and installation, contingencies, the aforementioned $4 million endowment, and other costs. The budget excluded operational, fundraising, and startup/staffing up expenses. It also excluded land costs since the Robbie Westphal family had committed to donating a riverfront site.

Also Tuesday, USMM Vice President of Development Alice Alt said sign-ups for the April 20 speech of Rep. Trey Gowdy, congressman from South Carolina’s 4th District, are going well with 1,500 expected, including 400 students from Fort Smith Public Schools (FSPS). The students will be invited to submit questions for Gowdy. From those submissions, the plan is for three students to be selected to have lunch with the congressman, who serves on the House Committees on Intelligence, Ethics, Oversight and Government Reform, and Judiciary, where he also serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. Gowdy’s speech will be on constitutional law.

The speech is a part of the 2017 Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series conducted by the U.S. Marshals Museum, and will be held at the Fort Smith Convention Center.

Additionally, the Board approved three new members, including Robert Hornberger, a Fort Smith attorney; Rusty Myers, who retired from Western Arkansas Planning and Development and now is one of the lead organizers of the Van Buren Original downtown redevelopment efforts; and Jim Spears, former Arkansas 12th Judicial Circuit Judge.