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During the City Commission meeting held on Tuesday morning, August 21, a representative of the WASP (Women's AirForce Service Pilots) Museum gave a presentation on the proposed new construction that will expand the facilities.
A handout was given to the commissioners, which offered an outlook on the future of the facility and ideas on potential exhibits. At the present time, the museum is working with an architect and architect manager, both based out of the Dallas area.
Now that the contractual designs have been completed, the museum is working on their fundraising efforts. A timeline was presented to the commissioners, with the building start date tentatively set for January 2013, with a completion date possibly six months later.
The museum is applying for and has submitted requests for grants, while they are also receiving a number of donations from across the country. One generous gift received was $100,000 from Virginia--proof that the fundraising efforts are going well.
In addition, work is being done to obtain a loan from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
The goal of the building, according to the representative, is to honor the WASP of World War 2, while additionally bringing positive attention to Sweetwater. In addition, the museum hopes that the facility will bring in high attendance numbers and will also help to attract new citizens to the community.
By offering new exhibits--some will be touring exhibits while others will be permanent fixtures--and the addition of 8,400 feet to the facility, the expectation is for the museum to be a major tourism attraction in the entire country.
Over 600 artifacts are also being received for placement in the museum, with more scheduled for arrival, including a full WASP uniform. One of the great uses of the museum will be for the Homecoming celebrations for the WASP.
Some of the updates mentioned for the museum will be an updated room for the board of directors. The museum representative told the commissions that the board was very proud of the city, the museum and the potential of the museum.
Advertising has played a great part in the success the museum has already seen, due in part to the signs and billboards that promote the museum.
Additionally, a glass elevator will be installed, along with hangar doors. A gift that will be also given to the museum as part of its expansion will be a restored airplane.
Furthermore, a theater will be part of the new construction, with capabilities to be moved to other places during different events. A number of the exhibits will also be mobile should they need to be moved around.
Already, the museum is working alongside city personnel and the local fire department to ensure all around access to the facility. Meetings with TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) have also taken place in preparation of the expansion.
The museum would like for some progress to be made by this year's Homecoming, with the goal of the entire project being completed by the 2013 Homecoming in order for the living WASP members--currently numbering around 240--to have a chance to visit the updated facilities.