BLOOMFIELD - With the federal aid of a Rural Business Enterprise Grant for $65,000, the Stars and Stripes Museum/Library can now march forward in its goal to preserve the past.
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and Greg Branum, state director of USDA Rural Development, presented a mock check to Jim Mayo, president of the Stars and Stripes Museum/Library Association, Wednesday afternoon.
"I think it's (the museum/library receiving the grant) great," said James DeLay, a Korean War veteran from Advance. "Stoddard County has flourished."
The grant will aid in completing the interior of the 3,780-square feet addition in the existing museum/library building. The addition is currently empty with concrete floors. That's where the new grant comes in to play.
"The new library will have books, newspapers and, of course, the 40,000 plus issues of Stars and Stripes," said Gary Capps, executive director of Stars and Stripes Museum/Library. "We hope to one day digitalize them (Stars and Stripes issues) so they are available online."
Storage and prep areas will also be a part of the new library, Capps said.
And Sandy Colton of New York gave the Stars and Stripes Museum/Library all of his photography equipment so the library will also have a dark room. Colton was the chief photographic editor of Stars and Stripes newspaper and worked for the Associated Press, Capps added.
The expansion of the museum will result in 10 new jobs at the museum/library. About 10 employees currently work at the museum/library, but when the interior of the library is finished, more help will be needed, Capps said.
In the past two years, the museum/library has seen about 10,000 visitors, he recalled. But, he added, the number of visitors gets bigger every year. Now about 1,500 visitors pass through the museum/library each month. The Stars and Stripes Museum/Library was definitely the place to be on Wednesday afternoon. Along with the check presentation, the museum/library also hosted a reception for the new administrator of the new veteran's cemetery, Ken Swearengin. With the new administrator, work for the cemetery can now get under way.
DeLay and his wife, Henrietta, came out to celebrate the grant for the new library and the new veteran's cemetery. He said he wants to be buried at the new veteran's cemetery when he dies.
Several area veterans like DeLay attended Wednesday's events but unfortunately, for some veterans, it's too late.
"I know a lot of veterans want to be buried here (at the veteran's cemetery)," Mrs. DeLay said. "But a lot of them passed away before they could see it."