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Proposed bill would move Pioneer Village from ND fairgrounds

The Ward County Historical Society's Pioneer Village Museum is seen in this 2016 photo. Andrea Johnson / Minot Daily News

MINOT, N.D. - A bill has been introduced in the North Dakota Legislature that would provide $2 million, or as much as is needed, to the Ward County Historical Society to relocate its Pioneer Village museum off the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

Ward County Historical Society President David Leite said in an email that historical society members plan to attend a hearing on Senate Bill 2146 at 9:45 a.m. Thursday at the Capitol in Bismarck.

Leite said the bill was introduced by Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, and Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo, and Rep. Lisa Meier, R-Bismarck, and Rep. Karen Rohr, R-Mandan. It is attached to the appropriation for the State Historical Society budget, but is separate.

The local historical society plans to move the museum to the south side of Burlington on the U.S. 2 and 52 Bypass. Burlington, located eight miles west of Minot, is the former county seat. However, money is needed for the move.

The historical society lost a long-running legal battle last year over the pioneer village's location on the fairgrounds. The State Fair had served an eviction notice on the historical society and the historical society claimed it had the right to keep the village on the fairgrounds under the terms of a 1966 agreement. A district court judge ruled largely in favor of the State Fair Association in August and the historical society decided against an appeal. Leite said the historical society wants to focus on a new beginning for the museum in Burlington.

It plans to add a new visitors center in the new location. The visitors center would house a gift shop, accessible bathrooms, automotive museum, and other museum displays, Leite said in a statement.

"We also hope to put up other buildings to house our antique farm machinery, a place to show old movies, hold plays and other events, and a soda fountain," said board member Dan Caswell in the statement. "The new and much larger location affords the possibility for many changes that were not possible where we were before."

The land in Burlington was donated by the DeSour Valley Economic Development Corp.