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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Funding for Heritage Trust Fund unsure

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  • Memories fade and history crumbles if not preserved. However, the expense of projects to preserve and restore historic properties can be high.
    The Heritage Trust Fund (HTF) provides grants for properties on the National Register of Historic Places or the Register of Historic Kansas Places. You might wonder if we even have any in Harvey County, yet over a quarter of a million dollars has been granted by the HTF to the Warkentine House and Fischer Field Stadium.
    The most recent HTF grant for Harvey County in 2012, provided the Warkentine House with $28,855 for foundation work and footings at the front of the house. Fischer Field Stadium's $90,000 grant in 2004 took care of general exterior work—concrete work, masonry, doors and windows, and bandshell repair.
    Started in 1991, the HTF grant committee chooses from applications by local governments, private individuals, non-profit and for-profit entities. Katrina Ringler, Grants Manager at the Kansas Historical Society, said they look for the project's urgency, financial need, what support is present, community benefit and geographic location.
    As the funds are collected from across the state, they try to spread the money around—that is contingent on who has applied as well. Generally about $1 million is collected, with only a small amount kept for overhead expenses.
    The number of applications each year varies with the amount of money available and the size of grants requested. The maximum grant is $90,000. If smaller amounts are requested, more grants are given. In 2011, 14 grants were distributed, compared to 24 in 2012, and 18 in 2013.
    Most of the grants are given to historical structures, though some unusual requests have been granted. Ringler said in 2013 a grant was given to a city pool in Meade County built by the Works Progress Administration as a Great Depression federal art project. Concrete work was needed to prevent the pool leaking and repairs for the life guard stands.
    Also in 2013, the Barlett Arboretum received funds to build a well to water their plants to replace their contaminated well. Coronado Heights, near Lindsborg, received a 2014 HTF fund to restore the castle and restrooms and make it more handicap accessible.
    The HTF also considers requests for archaeological preservation, sculptures, schools, theaters, libraries, churches, banks, water towers and more.
    The HTF was funded solely from a percentage of the mortgage registration fee. However, this year legislation eliminates the fee over a five year period. Fee increases are estimated to cover the elimination, though Ringler said there is no way to verify that.
    Information from Harvey County Register of Deeds Margaret Hermstein, shows that for certain documents filed with the county, the HTF receives $1 for certain pages. Also the new law says that no county can put more than $30,000 into the fund, whereas previously the cap was $100,000.
    "We will wait and see what is collected, " said Ringler. "If there is less money, there will be fewer grants to give back to the preservation of Kansas' history."

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