The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has a bit of a problem.
The building it is in is getting old. The structure is sound and in good overall shape, but there are things that need to be repaired or replaced. An HVAC unit just had to be replaced on an emergency basis — at a cost of more than $20,000. The museum had to fork over another $11,000 in July to replace another failed HVAC unit. The roof needs to be replaced, and other equipment there is nearing the end of its expected lifespan.
Last week the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted to give the museum $5,000 to help with the repair cost, and board member Shirley Brinkley suggested that perhaps Surry County officials should step to the plate and do a little to help with the expected repair and replacement bills.
We think she and other city commissioners are right on target in this request. The facility is, as Brinkley said, a regional museum which offers nearly as much benefit to the county as it does the city.
It was good to hear afterward that Surry County Manager Chris Knopf said he is open to proposing just that to his board of commissioners.
Knopf said whether he includes such requests in the eventual budget proposal he submits to this board will be dependent upon a number of factors, including the amount of revenue available to the board, and that it would be for facility upgrades and repair, rather than programming cost.
Given the fact that the museum is essentially self-sufficient with programming through its various fundraisers and other means of raising revenue, that would seem to be a reasonable expectation for the county. We hope the Surry County Board of Commissioners is open to this idea as well.