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Funding speedup approved for Indian museum

By Ron Jenkins
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (AP) 7-08

A state board voted July 22 to speed up $25 million in bond funding authorized by the Legislature for an American Indian museum in Oklahoma City.

Members of the Oklahoma Capital Improvement Authority voted to seek interim financing from local banks to keep work on the project on track, while continuing the process of selling the bonds.

Gov. Brad Henry, board chairman, said the action will save money because of rising construction costs and the expense of the current contractor having to stop work on the project.

The museum was originally envisioned to cost $150 million, but so far only $63 million in bond funding has been approved, including the $25 million provided by the 2008 Legislature. The federal government has kicked in about $5 million. 

 

Henry said it is likely officials will seek more funding from lawmakers for the project. He expressed disappointment that the federal government had not done more to help with building the center.

“It will be a great, tremendous asset for Oklahoma City and the entire state. It will be the largest Native American museum of its kind” in the country, the Democratic governor said.

Jim Joseph, state bond adviser, said the board’s action will free up funds for the project a month earlier than under the normal process of selling bonds.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anaotubby said the money will complete the main building of the museum and improve efforts to obtain private financing for the project.

The $25 million was part of a $475 million bond issues authorized by lawmakers, with $300 million set aside for road and bridge improvements, $100 million for college professorships, $25 million for bridge and dam improvements along the Arkansas River in the Tulsa area and $25 million for other flood control projects.

In Tuesday’s action, the board voted to seek bids to pay for bond attorneys, underwriters and printing costs for the six projects in the package.

To save construction costs, the board also voted to give priority to $11 million in financing to complete the state Supreme Court building.

 

 

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