By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
Muskogee’s cash-strapped Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame won somewhat of a reprieve Monday with a little help from the city and its charitable foundation.
OMHOF’s governing board requested $205,000 to fund operations, upgrades and marketing. The money would have been used to pay off the debt owed for its children’s museum and make sound and lighting improvements at the Frisco Depot.
That request essentially was denied, but City of Muskogee Foundation board members did come up with “a creative way” to help the organization.
The solution offered Monday included a $209,000 grant to the city of Muskogee. That money will be used to buy property donated to OMHOF a year ago.
The city will pay OMHOF $160,000 for the property. OMHOF President Jim Blair said that money will be used to pay off $35,000 debt for the museum’s children’s exhibit and the organization’s operations.
City Manager Greg Buckley said city councilors will have to approve the grant before the conveyance can be executed. The vacant building that sits on the property, he said, will be razed and prepared with adjacent property owned by the city for the potential development of an arts and cultural district.
The grant was announced Monday along with 29 other awards, all of which totaled nearly $2.25 million. With prior commitments of $1.52 million, the foundation awarded grants this year totaling more than $3.76 million.
During the past three years, the foundation has granted about $15 million to programs designed to improve the quality of life for Muskogee residents. Mayor Bob Coburn, who serves as a board member by virtue of his elected office, said the organization is doing good work.
In addition to the $209,000 grant, the city of Muskogee was awarded another $200,000 for its housing rehabilitation program. The foundation awarded nearly $51,000 for a juvenile offender community service program.
The foundation also funded a request by Connors State College President Tim Faltyn that will provide “gap funding” for students pursuing pre-nursing, nursing and allied health degrees.
The foundation granted $125,000 this year and pledged $175,000 next year. The grant is designed to fill “the gap between the cost covered by federal and state aid and the remaining costs associated with completing a college degree.”
Other organizations and programs awarded grants Monday include:
• Muskogee Public Schools — $431,411 for its One Team, One Vision, One Community program for student development;
• Muskogee Public Schools — $56,625 to offset the costs of its Rougher Outdoor Camp for the district’s seventh-graders;
• Muskogee Parks and Recreation — $215,000 for a variety of programs offered by the Muskogee Teen Center;
• St. Joseph’s Catholic School — $1,100 for Operation Aware, a program designed to help students from third through eighth grade succeed;
• Muskogee Public Schools’ Rougher Summer Pride — $100,035 for a program designed to keep students active and healthy during the summer months;
• Muskogee Christian Ministers Union — $48,281 for the Martin Luther King Center after school program;
• Muskogee Public Schools — $16,000 for Career Exploration Helping Every Student Succeed program;
• VENAE Inc. — $35,200 for Luminous Ladies, a program designed to offer fifth- through eighth-grade girls explore their goals and dreams;
• Muskogee Nonprofit Resource Center — $65,000 for strengthening organization capacity;
• Bacone College — $10,000 for American Indian Summer Bridge Program designed to help high school graduates transition into college;
• City of Muskogee — $75,000 for Muskogee Wellness Initiative and its focus on healthier workplaces, schools and overall community;
• Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children — $20,000 for case management support;
• Muskogee County Child Advocacy Center — $61,300 for trauma-based mental health program;
• Muskogee County Community Action Foundation — $200,000 for a youth and low-income feeding program;
• First Baptist Church — $22,800 for free health clinic;
• American Red Cross — up to $25,000 for reimbursing costs of financial assistance given to Muskogee residents who receive assistance from fires or natural disasters;
• Muskogee County Child Advocacy Center — $18,480 for its Darkness to Light sexual abuse prevention program;
• Muskogee Nonprofit Resource Center — $5,000 for its Run for Pride, Stride by Stride program designed to challenge at-risk youth to experience the benefits of goal-setting and character development;
• St. Joseph’s Catholic School — $73,941 to help construct outdoor track and fitness trail, fitness stations and track equipment that will be open to the public;
• Camp Grey Squirrel — up to $5,000 on a reimbursement basis for camp designed to serve children 5 years old and up who have autism spectrum disorders;
• Muskogee Nonprofit Resource Center — $12,000 to fund the purchase of four new sport wheelchairs for the Rollin’ Raiders wheelchair basketball team;
• Muskogee Nonprofit Resource Center — $71,245 for resource development continuation;
• Volunteers of America — $25,000 for RSVP program;
• Volunteers of America — $28,000 for payee program;
• Five Civilized Tribes Museum — $36,860 for collection digitization project;
• Eastern Workforce Investment Board — $2,000 for Elevate Muskogee project designed to help youth transition into workforce.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot
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