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oakley awarded grant for visitor center



8/17/2010

by mike corn special to the salina journal


oakley — first came the western vistas historic byway, the first of its kind in the state.

now, oakley has been awarded a grant to build a visitor’s center near the buffalo bill statue on the city’s west side, something of a midpoint for the byway, which stretches west to sharon springs and south to scott city.

the project ultimately will cost about $500,000, according to organizer raelene keller, with logan county and its residents coming up with a quarter of the cost.

the visitor’s center was one of 18 projects receiving funding through federal transportation enhancement grants awarded by the kansas department of transportation.

goodland also received a grant for the restoration of a historic brick street on main street between 11th and 13th streets.

keller hailed the award, especially given its timing with the designation for the historic byway.

“the timing is perfect,” she said.

the idea all along has been to keep the cost of the visitor’s center project below $500,000, keller said. in an effort to ensure the project works, the oakley group — the wild west historical foundation and logan county — opted for a 25 percent match to the grant.

as a result, logan county and its residents will pay about $125,000 toward the project.

logan county, keller said, already has pledged $50,000 toward the project, and pledges from other residents have covered the rest.

supporters started making calls to get pledges to cover the rest of the local match, keller said.

“within three days, we raised $75,000.”

the buffalo bill visitor and cultural center will be located on the eight-acre tract of land that the larger-than-life buffalo bill statue sits on.

“that was the intent, that there’s room to grow,” keller said.

the 4,000-square-foot center likely will be located next to the existing cabin, which the historical foundation put in place. that cabin might be sold and moved off site once the center’s construction is complete.

location didn’t hurt any either, as the center will be located at the intersection of three major transportation routes. it also didn’t hurt that the statue already draws people in.

keller said about 6,000 people a year sign the guest book at the cabin.










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