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Vermilion zeroes in on goal of buying museum building

Andy Ouriel • Dec 16, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Administrators expect to raise the $1.65 million needed before a Dec. 31 deadline to purchase the Inland Seas Maritime Museum building. The museum moved to Toledo several months ago.

City officials collected about $1.55 million over the past 11 months, equating to about 94 percent of what is needed for outright ownership.

“We do have more than that in pledges,” Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan said. “We are very close to our goal. We have to finish all the paperwork for the state of Ohio grants, and that usually takes a couple months”

Grants and private donations have accounted for most of the money raised thus far. Vermilion officials haven’t designated city tax dollars for this initiative.

Among the largest donors:

• $200,000: From Karen and Larry Bettcher — owner of Birmingham-based Bettcher Industries, a food and meat processing equipment manufacturer — to jump-start the fundraising effort. The donation also allowed officials to buy the option on the 2.3-acre property.

• $826,000: State grant given to city officials.

• $90,000: Grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Nature Works Program and the Federal Land and Water Conservation Program.

• $25,000: Contribution from Erie MetroParks.

It’s unclear what officials plan to do with the property, although a city-wide survey proposed one idea: Turn the site into a fishing museum.

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