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For week ended April 02, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 30Mar00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormon Trail included In National Trails Center, Construction Will Begin Next Month
(National Trails Center moves ahead despite cost overruns)
Billings MT Gazette (AP) 29Mar00 N6
Associated Press

CASPER, WYOMING -- The U.S. Government awarded the contract for building the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center on Tuesday, clearing the way for construction of the Casper, Wyoming building to begin next month, according to U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin. The center, built at the only place where the Oregon, Mormon, California and Pony Express trails intersect, will provide a study center and exhibition space for information on the trails, as well as provide support for efforts to preserve and protect the trails.

However, the Center still faces financial difficulties, and already faces projected cost overrruns. The low bid on constructing the building was $6 million, $1 million more than expected. In addition, an across-the-board reduction in spending on fiscal 2000 federal construction projects of 7.5 percent further reduced the available funds, bringing the estimated shortfall to $1,950,700.

The total cost of the center was originally expected to be $10 million. The federal government agreed to pay half that amount, and the city of Casper also agreed to pay a portion, funded by a one-cent local optional sales tax. Private interests have also contributed to the project through the Trails Center Foundation. But the shortfall now means that supporters must try to raise the additional funds.

"Needless to say I am disappointed about these developments," Cubin said. "While this will not delay construction of the Trails Center, it will necessitate efforts to acquire additional federal funds." The Trails Center Foundation will make up the difference for now, and raise additional funds later so that the expected exhibit and diorama contracts can be paid. "I have written a letter to Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula requesting his support in attaining the funds needed to meet the outstanding balance," added Cubin.


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