Supporters of what’s called the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum said they were recently told much needed repairs can’t be made using a $250,000 grant acquired from the state. Now, the museum is in need of up to $100,000 to open.
Over a dozen Seabees from Gulfport were busy Monday taking tiles down from the roof of what will be the future Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum.
“Thank God for the Seabees,” said Dick Wilson, with the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum.
Supporters of the project said they are grateful for the help from the Seabees and other military installations.
“It’s hot in here. It’s raining like you know what outside, but they’re here and we appreciate them,” said Jim Carter, who is a board member with the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum.
However, after recently learning a grant for the museum can’t be used to fix the building’s leaky roof and broken air conditioning unit’s, supporters are left looking for other answers.
“We weren’t expecting this hiccup. I would have had this building done six months ago. We got a letter from the legislature that said that the money has to be used exclusively for architectural design,” said Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum Board President Francisco Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said the museum needs close to $100,000 to make the repairs. If the repairs aren’t made by Sept. 30, the City of Gulfport, which owns the building, could pull the lease for the museum.
“We need a person, a champion that says building an aviation museum to honor Mississippi aviators all the way from the Delta to the Gulf Coast and from the Mississippi River to the Alabama line, it is important,” said Gonzalez.
Museum supporters are hopeful they can get the help and funds needed to meet the repair deadline so one day, people can travel near and far and see all types of aircraft and artifacts in Gulfport.
“Many of them will take their family to this place and say, ‘I helped build that,’ or ‘I flew that,’ or ‘I knew the guys that did this,'” said Wilson.
Carter said the museum will also give those who served our country the recognition they deserve.
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