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NC Museum of Forestry faces closure due to budget cuts

Doors may be shutting at the North Carolina Museum of Forestry in Whiteville due to the state Senate's budget proposal cut out funding for museum.

"The proposal was to sell the building for $1 to the city of Whiteville and allow them an appropriation of $58,000 to keep the museum open. This came as a great surprise to us,” said member of the Friends of the NC Forestry Museum Jennifer Holcomb.

Museum representatives said the possible closure is especially surprising considering the museum had a grand re-opening in November 2011 after $2 million worth of renovations.

"Many organizations have sent letters of resolutions, have contacted their legislators, and even people throughout the state, the contacts that we have locally throughout the state. We have asked everyone for help," Holcomb said.

Whiteville Mayor Terry Mann said city and county budgets cannot afford to take over the reigns.

"To buy the building to operate as a museum, I don't think the city would be interested in. If the museum should close and then they would come back and offer the building at that price for whatever we wanted to use it for then, you know, I think it would be a no-brainer to accept the offer,” said Mann.

The state House budget released this week is providing a glimmer of hope. Their proposal includes funding for the museum, which has an annual operating budget of $300,000.

"It would hurt this community and the region so much not to have this attraction here," Holcomb said.

Board members at the museum remain optimistic as they anticipate the final budget.

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