Bad news for maritime funding this week, but it’s not a permanent defeat. The STORIS Act, which would have restored federal maritime preservation funding to the level Congress originally attended, did not survive as an amendment to the defense spending authorization act. The maritime community had pushed hard to have that funding restored (see earlier posts) but the Maritime Administration applied pressure of its own to allow it to keep the money it had carved out of the fund for itself. It didn’t help that STORIS Act sponsor Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska was defeated in a close reelection bid, and that his staff had left Washington for the campaign that wasn’t settled until well after election day. But Tim Runyan already is at work lining up support for next year’s effort to reverse this money grab, and we’ll be letting the lighthouse community know when it’s time to step up efforts with your local congressmen and congresswomen. It would help to talk to them about this at every opportunity between now and then, so that the issue stays as alive as the funding needs of the community. Meanwhile, the National Park Service still will be administering a program with half the money it really should have. For those of you who applied in 2014, by the way, the NPS review of applications now has been pushed back to mid/late January. That’s just for the review that will lead to NPS recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior; I’m not aware of any timetable for those recommendations or for the final decisions, yet, but there’s a lot of pent-up demand for a relatively small pot of money and it’s spread across the entire maritime community. These remain tough financial times. The National Maritime Historical Society notes that several historic and replica sailing ships have been sold or laid up recently — Amistad, for example, is in receivership and Harvey Gamage and others have been sold off, with another dozen or so schooners also up for auction or sale. America’s maritime heritage really does need funding, and that’s a message we have to keep getting across to this and future Congresses. -mike vogel
Ted Panayotoff recently wrote “The H. Lee White Maritime Museum, Oswego, NY, which recently assumed responsibility for restoration of the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse by leasing it from the owner, the City of Oswego, NY, is seeking information on any private foundations or other organizations that may offer grants that would apply to lighthouse restoration. We are looking for funding support to help with the painting of the exterior of the lighthouse. Any information or contacts would be most welcome. Thank you.”
Funding has always been an important concern for lighthouse preservation. ALC has started a resource page for funding sources. What others programs should Ted consider and/or be added to our list?
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Just in case you haven’t noticed, the gift-giving season is bringing a bunch of new lighthouse stuff to the Web. At least three new lighthouse-group Web sites have been unveiled or are in production, and all bring new looks and new life to the movement.
The National Lighthouse Museum, at lighthousemuseum.org, recently rolled out a smart new site, as Linda Dianto and friends gear up for a “hard opening” of the site’s education center (the “soft opening” was a gala event in August). It’s a good place to keep up on the museum’s already robust New York City-area programming (the bad news: we already missed the Holiday Party that took place earlier this week).
Then, of course, there’s this American Lighthouse Council site, which co-chair Candy Clifford put together so well for those of us in the “practitioner” category (the bad news: we’re not hosting any Christmas party, because in the real world we’re basically homeless. Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard?).
But the real topper will be the new United States Lighthouse Society’s extensive website redesign project, a good-looking package that will pack pages with information resources of benefit to the entire community. It’s in testing now, and headed for a hoped-for mid-January rollout. We could give you the beta test site URL, but then Wayne Wheeler would have to hunt us down, and that would ruin our holidays for sure (unless, of course, he cooks for us; that’s his hidden talent). Anyway, the testing is now consuming hours of time from some of us, but nowhere near the hours that have been poured into this by the team of professionals and volunteers who have spent months on this. Tom Tag, a USLHS board member as well as ALC Artifact Committee head, has been leading this effort, and we all know how thorough and painstaking he is. Trust us — this site will be worth the effort, and worth your visit next month!