Sopris Sun

Carbondale's community supported, weekly newspaper

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Proposed history fund goes down

By Nicolette Toussaint
Special to the Sopris Sun

Garfield County voters rejected a tax increase of $3.42 per $100,000 of assessed property value that would have supported seven historical societies located in Garfield County.

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, unofficial results showed Measure 1A losing with 3473 votes in favor and 4399 against it. Out of 7872 votes, 55 percent of voters were turning thumbs down.

Measure 1A would have provided steady funding to seven struggling nonprofits that curate local cultural relics: the Mount Sopris Historical Society in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs Historical Society, Glenwood Springs Railroad Museum, New Castle Historical Society, Silt Historic Park, Rifle Heritage Center and Museum and the Grand Valley Historical Society.

Historically, the local historical societies have depended on donations, memberships and special events while volunteers have managed day-to-day operations. Many have struggled with dilapidated buildings and deferred maintenance; several have been unable to operate in winter because they lack heating systems.

The measure would have provided $1 million annually over 10 years, with money being used first to pay staff and overhead, secondly to address building issues, and later to improve the museums’ offerings.

Bill Kight, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society, was philosophical about the loss, saying, “It just means we’re going to have to find other ways to keep history alive. We’ll just have to be more creative in trying to find funding. That’s not an easy way job; it never has been and never will be.”

Kight added, “The whole important thing for me personally was to take this to the voters, and I respect their decision. I think people don’t like taxes, period. I understand, and I’m not going to take it personally.”