Marshals Museum chair says CEO arrest not slowing work, has funds for exhibit work

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 3,260 views 

The U.S. Marshals Service continues to support the completion of the U.S. Marshals Museum following the arrest of U.S. Marshals Museum President and CEO Patrick Weeks on Dec. 21 on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm.

Doug Babb, chairman of the board of directors of the U.S. Marshals Museum, said active and retired members of the U.S. Marshals Service are on the museum’s board as ex officio members.

“The Marshals service is well aware of the situation with Patrick. They are supportive of our progress,” Babb said. (Talk Business & Politics has made several attempts to directly contact the U.S. Marshals Service for comment on Weeks’ arrest.)

Babb has taken over Weeks’ duties coordinating with the board, the foundation and the museum staff to ensure things continue on schedule in Week’s absence.

According to a Fort Smith Police Department report, Weeks refused to allow two OG&E workers into his yard to work on street lights. The workers called the police when Weeks followed them with a pistol and pointed the pistol at them. Weeks was arrested without incident following the encounter and was released on a $3,000 bond from the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center on Dec. 21.

Babb said he and Andrew Meyer, chief development officer in charge of fundraising for the museum, will meet with the new director of the Marshals Service on Jan. 12. They will meet with potential donors in Washington D.C. on Jan. 11. Babb said Meyer has been fundraising in Houston, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and museum fundraising has branched out of Arkansas and into national fundraising.

In September, the museum signed a contract with Thinkwell for the construction of the museum experience (exhibits). The museum foundation has raised the $7.8 million needed to complete that construction, Babb said.

“There is a full schedule over 2022 for the building of the experience, and we have adequate funding,” he said. “It has been reported that we have several million left to raise in the capital campaign. That is not correct. We only have $2.7 million left to raise for the capital campaign.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, a museum supporter, said Tuesday (Dec. 28) he continues to be an active advocate for the museum.

“As unfortunate as the situation is with its CEO, they are entirely separate matters. The museum brings great promise to the city and will be a beautiful tribute to the Marshal’s Service once fully realized. There’s a process in place for matters of personal conduct, and I am confident that both the legal system and the museum board will be diligent in deliberating their respective responses,” Womack said.

Museum officials announced in early November that the Fort Smith-based museum had received an influx of contributions following a $5 million matching gift announced over the summer, meaning production of the museum experience could start soon and the museum could open within a year. Construction of the approximately 53,000 square feet U.S. Marshals Museum was completed – except for exhibits – in early 2020. The facility is located on the Arkansas River near downtown Fort Smith.

Babb said the board cannot announce an opening date for the museum until the experiences are fully fabricated.

“With supply issues internationally and nationally, there is no guarantee that contractors will be able to get all the supplies they need,” Babb said.

Contracts for the construction of the experiences will be signed in the spring.

“We won’t know more until we see if things stay on schedule,” Babb said.

In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the national museum. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in September 2015, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017.

Weeks, hired in June 2014 as museum president and CEO, succeeded Jim Dunn who had served as museum president since 2009. At the time of his hiring, Weeks was the principal of Strategic Experience Solutions in Dublin, Ohio, which focuses on project planning; implementation and oversight; growth and development of operations; annual budgets; and guest experiences. Prior to Strategic Experience Solutions, Weeks served as vice president of Roto, a design and production firm specializing in experiences for museums and entertainment venues. He also served as vice president of operations and guest experiences for the Arizona Science Center.