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Dickinson museum asks for $250,000

Press Photo by April Baumgarten Dickinson City Commission Vice President Gene Jackson question Dickinson History Museum Center Coordinator Dan Ingram why the museum center needs a budget increase to almost $250,000 Tuesday night at city hall.

The Dickinson History Museum Center asked the City Commission to increase its budget to almost $250,000 Tuesday night. The funds would go toward creating a strategic plan to get more tourists to the museum's attractions, Museum Coordinator Dan Ingram said.

"It's not my museum," Ingram said. "I just work there. It belongs to the community. I'm mostly concerned with recovering the money towards what will excite the community."

The 2012 budget, which was reviewed at the Dickinson City Commission meeting Tuesday night, allowed the Museum Center more than $205,000. Ingram asked that the budget be increased by $32,000.

Ingram has been with the Dickinson Museum for four months. He said that the museum needed the increase for basic needs such as maintenance and equipment.

"We do not currently have a stock of acid-free boxes or acid-free tissues. Those are some of the core elements you would find in the closet of a


Ingram said the museum has the potential to bring in more local people and tourists. He wants to try new things -- like an heirloom garden -- to build new audiences, but he cannot do it without an increase.

"The problem with running museums is they are expensive by nature," Ingram said. "We do things with an eye toward perpetuity rather than the fiscal year."

Dickinson City Commission President Dennis Johnson said the issue wasn't about increasing the budget. He said he was worried how the community was benefiting from the museum. He was also worried

about how well the groups that contributed to the Museum Center were coexisting.

"I have heard things about how the groups are getting along. How are we enhancing the quality of life?" Johnson asked. "Then we can we look our citizens in the eye and say, 'This is money well spent.' I don't think we can have that unless all the groups work well there and get along


Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns asked Ingram if donations were a large part of funding for museums. Ingram confirmed the fact. After Oltmanns brought up funding issues from previous years, he added that the museum "should take on

the responsibility of finding funds elsewhere."

"At some point, the museum is going to have to step up and take on a bigger portion of self-funding," Oltmanns said.

Ingram said that if the Commission was unhappy with the way he spent money that he could be shown the door. However, he said the

Commission should not make that decision based on past years.

"I cannot be held responsible for what happened before me," Ingram responded. "In my opinion you should have given the quarter million in 2008 and 2009."

Johnson said he was excited how the museum could benefit the community. He asked the City Commission to refer the budget increase to a special meeting that would focus on the changes.

"This is something that could make our community better," Johnson said. "It's one of those things you have to do well or you don't do it at all."

The meeting will be set for a date, time and place to be determined.

In other business, the City Attorney Matt Kolling asked the Commission to consider a "texting while driving" ordinance that would mimic the state law passed by North Dakota Legislature in April. He said this would allow the city police to issue municipal violations. The ordinance would be looked at and discussed in full at the next meeting.

City Commission Vice President Gene Jackson also ask City Engineer Shawn Soehren if it would be possible to get a calculation of how much Dickinson could grow in population. Jackson said it would be a good idea since the city was growing so fast. Soehren said he would look into it.