Support the Union County Museum

To the editor:

Greetings from Carlisle (the last letter on this topic began with “Greetings from Canada” but I know I can’t beat that…)

Thanks to another Carlisle, Mr. Oxner that is, and Arthur State Bank for their gracious contribution of $10,000 to the Union County Museum.

Union is looking good now! To name a few things: The new Main Street Junction (which I hear is booked constantly); the Piedmont Physic Garden, thanks to a generous contribution by the Switzer family; and plans for student housing at USCU which will give a tremendous boost to downtown business! (The same USCU that then-Gov. Mark Sanford tried to close not too many years ago…) And the Union County Museum. Of course, that has been in place on Main Street for years, but it may be new to some of you if you haven’t taken the time to check it out. So check it out!

The museum is a nice asset for the city and for the county, not just for its citizens, but for visitors as well. It’s unfortunate that the county had to cut museum funding this year, but I understand budget cuts, having been a reporter for years.

But I hope that local governments will do their best to see the long-term picture and support entities like the museum and arts council as much as they can. They enhance the community, as well as the city and county profiles for business/industrial recruitment.

I hear that the museum/historical society has begun charging fees for the use of the Cross Keys House for events like weddings — a great idea to help in the budget crunch. And the museum has done its best over these years to refrain from charging admission, for good reason, but possibly just a dollar or two admission, combined with more contributions, will help their bottom line. Many museums in other cities may charge $10 or more — but I’m certainly not suggesting that for Union because it should remain open to those of us on tight budgets.

And I hope that more people who live in Union County or have an interest in the community will follow the lead of Oxner and ASB, and give as well.

I’ll close with a personal story. Several years ago four distant cousins of mine who I had never met heard that they had family ties to Union County. They came to the museum and the courthouse from Greenville to do some research. They spent the day in town, ate lunch and did a little shopping. Ola Jean Kelly put them in touch with me. They came back twice and took me out to eat. Before I knew it they had called other cousins of mine who I had never met in North Carolina, and another seven people came to visit, and we went out. Of course, the fiscal impact of my visitors was small, but the Canadian who wrote the previous letter said he spent $5,000 here during five trips (and of all the places he could have gone to research ancestors, he came here because Ms. Kelly got back with him!) My point is that the museum and the event it sponsors in April do attract people, and hopefully will continue to play a part in attracting jobs to the area. Studies have shown that most companies are more likely to locate in communities that have attractive cultural profiles.

William Christopher