Culture commission awards $2.1 million for year

The Fourth Ward School and Piper's Opera House in Virginia City were two of the biggest recipients of funds Friday as the state Commission for Cultural Affairs awarded $2.1 million to historic preservation projects around the state.

Fourth Ward School was the top priority of the five-member commission which had to make grants from a list of requests totaling $8.8 million. It will receive $186,600, which supporters hope will make the building usable for functions. That would help it start generating revenue to support itself.

The school project has already received about $1.1 million from the state commission. But the award, as were almost all 24 granted funding this year, was far less than originally requested. Supporters wanted $414,263 this year.

Piper's Opera House requested $449,300 this year but received $167,940. A good share of that will go to help seal the building enough to keep weather out.

They are two of eight projects approved for funding in Western Nevada this year.

The Washoe Tribe won major funding for two of its top priorities. The Urban Indian Consortium was approved for $93,300 to restore buildings at the old Stewart Indian School.

Commission officials said they will probably have to return for more money next year since it seems unreasonable to try work on six buildings with that amount.

In addition, the Tribe was awarded $60,645 for its Washiw language center project. That too is located at Stewart near Carson City's southern border. The goal of the project is to preserve the Washoe language.

In Carson City, the Children's Museum was approved for $46,650 to replace historic windows, paint and other work. The museum has been awarded nearly $400,000 over the past seven years for work on the old brick armory on Carson Street.

Goldhill Historical Society's Gold Hill Depot project was approved for a total of $27,990 and the Mineral County 6th Street School project was granted $104,496. Organizers said that money would get the building "open and running."

The Carson Valley Historical Society was granted $37,413 to continue rehabilitation of the Genoa Museum. The society has received nearly $400,000 in the past for work to restore Douglas High School in Gardnerville.

The St. Mary's Studio Arts Center request for $330,000 was cut to $65,310.

Two requests from the area were rejected. The Carson City Preservation Coalition application for $27,500 for a feasibility study of preserving the Rinckel Mansion on Curry Street and the Yerington Paiute Tribe's request for $233,500 for a tribal cultural center were both turned down.

The commission also made major grants to the Churchill County Arts Council to restore the Oats Park School in Fallon, $163,275; the Western Folklife Center in Elko, $186,600 , the White Pine Community Choir Central Arts center in Ely, $132,486, and McKinley Park School in Reno, $139,950.

The panel spent two days reviewing applications and hearing testimony from supporters of each project before whittling down the numbers.

The final controversy centered on the $230,000 application of Friends of Huntridge Theater. The group wanted funds to pay down their mortgage so it can become self-supporting. Commission members differed on whether that was an appropriate use of historic preservation, finally compromising on a grant of $55,000.

In the end, the commission found itself still about $140,000 over budget. At that point, member Dan Gouker suggested cutting each application by the same small percentage to get the total down to $2.1 million.

Each grant was reduced by 6.7 percent to do so.

Commission members agreed they must plan another meeting before the 2001 Legislature to discuss planning for grants and how to convince lawmakers of the need for more money for historic preservation projects in Nevada.


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