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Medora's Cowboy Hall of Fame faces funding woes

Even with an extended deadline to pay $104,000 toward a bond, the board of directors for the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora won't say what will happen if it cannot come up with the cash.

Board President Phil Baird said there needs to be "cash in the bank" by the end of the month, but added that the board would consider other options if that goal is not met.

Kathy Miller, manager for The Center of Western Heritage and Cultures: Native American, Ranching and Rodeo in Medora, hopes the board will come up with the money so future operations at the center will not be in jeopardy.

"It is dire ... that we meet our bond payment," Miller said.

The board is facing construction debt of $1.2 million with a repayment schedule over 10 years, according to a press release issued this week.

"We've been saddled with a tough year, financially, and the challenge is clear," Baird stated in the press release.

There are more than 1,000 members of the NDCHF, Baird said. According to the press release, the NDCHF has $30,000 in its checkbook.

Baird said unfortunate events in 2011 led to the financial strain, placing the blame on the national economy, flooding in Medora and high gas prices.

Miller said there was a 14 percent drop in visitation at the center last year, resulting in less revenue. She agrees that the economic state is to blame.

"(The economy) is kind of a house of cards right now," Miller said. "Last year was a tough year. The money just was not coming through."

Rex Cook, of Dickinson, said he visits the NDCHF two to three times a year.

"I think it's quite an asset to the community and the state," Cook said. "I'd like to see them keep it up."

The NDCHF will host its annual meeting and fundraising auction Feb. 25 at the Seven Seas hotel in Mandan.

Three board members would not comment on the financial situation, directing all finance questions to Baird. The Press could not reach six other board members.