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The campaign seeks $3.5 million by Oct. 31 to make the 611 operational and construct a shop on the museum’s property where the engine can be housed and serviced.
The Roanoke Times | File
The Norfolk & Western 611 locomotive was built in the Roanoke shops in 1950.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
The Virginia Museum of Transportation’s race against time to put the Norfolk & Western J-Class 611 steam engine back on the rails next year continues its uphill climb.
Launched June 28, the “Fire Up 611!” campaign seeks $3.5 million by Oct. 31 to make the 611 operational and construct a shop on the museum’s property where the engine can be housed and serviced. The goal is to have the 611 take part in Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam passenger excursion program in 2014.
Transportation museum officials declined to disclose the total raised to date.
“The money has not come in has quickly as we had hoped from the big donors, but it’s coming in quickly from small donors,” said museum Executive Director Bev Fitzpatrick.
The museum had hoped by this time to have raised about $750,000. “We’re not there yet,” he said.
Museum officials have said the campaign began with $150,000 already in hand.
Director of Development Fran Ferguson said that the campaign has received more than 730 donations from 44 states and 10 foreign countries. The campaign also received two grants at the end of July .
The Candelaria Fund, an independent foundation based in San Francisco, awarded the campaign $25,000. The foundation had previously provided $100 toward the museum’s feasibility study to see if the 611 could be made ready for excursions. The museum was asked to apply and notified of the award within a few hours of turning in the application, Ferguson said.
The other grant came from the Chicago-based Tom E. Dailey Foundation, established by the chief executive officer of 2Checkout.com to support his favorite causes, including railroad heritage. The foundation awarded $15,000, the maximum amount possible.
Dailey contacted the museum to ask them to apply, and also made a private donation, Ferguson said,
In addition to spreading the word through social media, the museum has made fliers distributed to Trains magazine subscribers, and has made them available to rail societies as well. Ferguson said she sent 250 fliers in response to a request from a group in Ontario, Canada, last week.
Yet the campaign likely won’t make its goal without major gifts, and so far none have come through, though the staff is meeting with potential deep pocket donors and giving presentations, Fitzpatrick said.
If the campaign does not meet its goal by the Oct. 31 deadline, “we’ll just keep going,” Ferguson said, and aim toward adding the 611 to the 21st Century Steam program in 2015.
Though the museum is already working out contracts with the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., where the 611 would be restored , the work won’t begin until the $3.5 million is raised.
Should that goal ultimately prove out of reach, it will be up to the donors whether their money gets refunded or whether it’s used to create an endowment to support the engine, Ferguson said.
For more information about the campaign, call 342-5670, visit fireup611.org or follow @fireup611 on Twitter.
Butterflies at last
The Science Museum of Western Virginia inside Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke has acquired exotic butterflies for its much-touted butterfly garden.
The museum had not yet received its U.S. Department of Agriculture permits to order non-native butterfly species when it reopened May 18 as part of the newly renovated Center. The permits were awarded July 29.
Museum lead animal care specialist Derek Kellogg said the garden is now host to 23 exotic species and five native species. The new arrivals include Gulf Fritillary, Mexican Bluewing, Paper Kite, Great Eggfly, Large Postman and Blue Morpho butterflies.
More species will be added in the coming weeks.
Because the museum spends $1,000 a week to bring in new butterfly pupae, admission to the butterfly garden costs extra. The museum has been charging $2 while the garden hasn’t been at full capacity. On Aug. 16, the price will go up to $4 as originally planned.
Admission to the museum, not including the garden, is $10, senior citizens $9, children 3-17 $8. For more information, call 342-5710 or visit http://www.smwv.org.
The Foundation for Roanoke Valley has beg un taking applications for its “Arts at Work” grants for arts and culture nonprofits. Organizations in Roanoke, Salem and the counties of Botetourt, Craig, Franklin and Roanoke are eligible to apply.
Over a three-year period the program will offer a total of $120,000, through one $40,000 grant per year, to fund programs that create public artwork, produce communitywide events or performances, or bring major arts and cultural exhibits to the region.
The application deadline is 4 p.m. Sept. 6. For more information, visit www.foundationforroanokevalley.org.
Individual tickets for the inaugural season of the forthcoming Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech are available to order online and by phone.
The center’s 2013-14 season consists of 21 acts performing a total of 25 shows, starting with a Nov. 1 opening night performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble.
Other shows include a Holiday Pops concert by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra; “Reinventing Radio,” a presentation by Ira Glass, host of NPR’s “This American Life”; the Crooked Road Festival of bluegrass music in March 2014; magician Tomas Kubinek’s performance in April 2014 and several performances from professional dance companies. For more information, call 231-5300 or visit www.artscenter.vt.edu.
Roanoke Symphony Orchestra has also begun selling tickets for its 60th anniversary pops and masterworks series. Their opening masterworks concert on Oct. 7 features cellist Zuill Bailey, while their opening pops concert Oct. 11 features Michael McDonald of Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers.
For more information, visit rso.com/concerts/.
On the Arts blog
In October the Taubman Museum of Art will be hosting Canstruction , a hunger benefit with 10 teams competing to make sculptures out of stacks of food cans. The event needs volunteer gallery attendants.
To learn more, read the Arts & Extras blog at blogs.roanoke.com/arts.
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