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Bill to fund Theodore Roosevelt presidential library at Dickinson State University on governor's desk

Dickinson State University could be home to a new multi-million Theodore Roosevelt shrine.

The North Dakota Legislature this week passed a Department of Commerce budget bill that allows a possible $6 million for the construction of a building on the DSU campus that would be called the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

In order to access the funds -- which would be in the form of a grant awarded to DSU's Theodore Roosevelt Center -- the center would need to raise at least $3 million for the project from "non-state sources," according to language in House Bill 2018, which made it through both the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Jeff Zent, a spokesman for Gov. Jack Dalrymple, said the governor's office received the bill Thursday and that Dalrymple would review the budget before signing it into law.

"We appreciate the confidence shown by our legislators and we are extremely proud of the progress the Theodore Roosevelt Center has made since its inception," said Sharon Kilzer, project manager of the TRC. "The center has created a credible and respected digital library and it is an asset to our community and to the state of North Dakota."

Created in 2005, the TRC is housed both on the DSU campus and within digital archives detailing Roosevelt's life and adventures in the North Dakota Badlands before becoming the 26th U.S. president. Details about the library are in the early stages of being worked out, said DSU spokesperson Marie Moe.

"It's exciting," Moe said. "Once we see the details of the bill and get further into it and understand the language of the bill, we'll know more. It's very preliminary right now."

In an email sent to DSU students, faculty and staff, DSU President D.C. Coston said the TRC has made great progress since its inception.

"A facility with this goal and scope is an exciting development for North Dakota and for Dickinson," Coston wrote in the email. "The work over the last several years by the (TRC), including digitizing records related to President Roosevelt and hosting the annual Roosevelt Symposium, has received national and international recognition."

Another section of the legislation would provide an additional $6 million if state revenues exceed projections in the future, according to a DSU press release.

Zent said it is Dalrymple's protocol to review every bill thoroughly before signing it into law. The size of the would-be library and an estimated final price tag are yet to be determined.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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