by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--Museum adminstrator Lettie England is as dedicated to her job as anyone you'll meet.
She loves to talk about everything on display in their gallery. That passion shows in her efforts to keep the Presidential Museum from shutting down.
"It's like sand going through an hourglass. Time is running out," England said.
In the midst of tough economic times, the museum is bouncing back from a rough 2008. England explains, "When you realize that we were closed for 2 months last year with no revenue whatsoever, and we were also going through restoration of the Bush home at the same time."
Board members are proud of England's efforts to keep the museum afloat. According to Juan Alcantar, "The museum has made tremendous progress. The last few years, with new leadership here and Lettie on as the Director, the museum has been able to pull out of a situation that wasn't ideal."
The museum is almost totally funded by individual donations. England says operating expenses can be up to $165,000 per year. That's why school administrators, on all levels, are being asked to help, "What role can the museum play in education and what may those entities do to provide sustainabiltiy for the museum?"
On a good year, the museum brings in up to $80,000. That's less than half of operation costs, so they need help to break even.
"If each of those gave a portion, $25,000, then it's not overwhelming to any one of those entities, but it is lifesaving for us," England said.
Alcantar encourages the community to pitch in, "You can become a member of the museum. You can become a volunteer of the museum. The community itself, meaning the people of Odessa, really should come out and see the museum and support it."
The collection on display in the gallery alone has an estimated value of over $2 million and has things that can't be found anywhere else. England is confident in the future of the museum, regardless of what it may be, "We are a "can-do" city. It's going to be alright. If we have to close the doors it will still be, another door will open."
There is an item on display at the museum right now, a letter signed by President John Adams, dated June, 1809. That letter will be 200 years old next month. It's items like that that make the Presidential Museum so worth while.