Many are asking about the future of the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith. The big questions are will there ever be enough money to build the museum and if it gets built, and is there enough money to run it?
The future home of the U.S. Marshals Museum could soon get national support in funding the project. A coin to be approved by President Obama is a small step in getting some fundraising for the museum.
In 2007, Fort Smith was chosen to be the future site of a national U.S. Marshals museum. It's a 50 million dollar project just to get it built, but museum vice president Jessica Hayes says that money only covers construction and exhibits, not operating costs.
"Operations will be something that we'll have to continually raise,” says Hayes, “We don't have a number on that exactly."
So far, only $10 million of the $50 million needed has been raised for the project. Forty million is needed just to get started.
"One thing to keep in mind about the museum is we started from nothing, so when the museum was given to Fort Smith, there were zero dollars in the bank," says Hayes.
If approved, a new U.S. Marshal coin could bring in around $5 million for the museum. It would create a boost for fundraising and move the construction date one step closer, but there is no set time frame.
"We really move at the pace of our donors,” says Hayes, “It would be silly for us to put an arbitrary date on when we're going to open because if we don't reach that date, then it seems that the project would be a failure."
If it's approved, the coin won't be available until 2015.
Thursday visitors tour the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Some were out of state U.S. Marshals. They say they hope to come back.
"Fort Smith, this facility here is part of our history, so anybody who comes here part of the Marshal Service wants to come to Fort Smith and look at what was here,” says U.S. Marshal District Arizona Chief Deputy Fedencio Rivera.
If passed, these would be the first coins honoring the U.S. Marshals Service. The coin would be available in three denominations; a $5 gold coin, $1 silver coin, and a half-dollar.