National Memorial likely to receive more funding

Saturday, November 15th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City National Memorial is on track to permanently solve its financial problems.

U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook has included a provision in the 2004 Transportation and Treasury Appropriations bill to transfer ownership of the memorial from the government to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation.

The change would mean the dissolution of the government-owned Oklahoma City National Memorial Trust, a move expected to free it from dozens of costly federal regulations.

Istook also called for up to $5 million in matching funds to help the memorial develop a permanent endowment to cover operating expenses.

Officials say the House could approve the bill as early as next week.

News of Istook's provision came about a week after lawmakers approved $1.6 million to reimburse the memorial for money paid to the National Park Service since the landmark opened.

"We applaud Congressman Istook for his leadership in drafting and including this language in the bill," said Luke Corbett, chairman of the memorial trust. "We believe that this solution is the most appropriate way to resolve the important issues facing the memorial."

Memorial Executive Director Kari Watkins said the nine memorial trust's board members will be allowed to stay with the memorial foundation.

Officials will begin a fund-raising campaign to earn federal matching funds, she said.

Istook, R-Warr Acres, said he hopes the action will solve the memorial's money problems for good.

"It frees the foundation from burdensome federal regulations and gives Oklahomans control and responsibility for the continued maintenance of this national memorial," Istook said.