Lawton area lawmakers make pledge for Army Museum funds

Tuesday, June 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Comanche County legislative delegation has agreed to redirect $1.7 million in capital improvement bond funds to the proposed National Army Museum of the Southwest.

House Speaker Loyd Benson, D-Frederick, said the pledge of the funds is being done with the hope that Gov. Frank Keating will designate $5.8 million in additional bond money toward the project.

There was no immediate response from the governor's office.

Benson said Keating had said he wants "an indication of support from the Comanche County legislative delegation before disbursing funds from his $51.8 million bond allocation."

He said the commitment from the Comanche County group, plus $5.8 million from the governor, would be half of the $15 million needed for the project.

Sen. Sam Helton, D-Lawton, is redirecting $600,000 for the museum. Others include Sen. Jim Maddox, D-Lawton, $410,000; Rep. Ron Kirby, D-Lawton, $150,000; Rep. Jim Glover, D-Elgin, $200,000;Rep. Abe Deutschendorf, D-Lawton, $150,000, and Benson, $200,000.

The allocations were from a $157.9 million bond issue authorized by the Legislature.

Artifacts from existing and former Army posts throughout the country have been forwarded to Fort Sill, where they are stored in more than two dozen buildings while awaiting construction of a museum where they can be publicly displayed, Helton said.

The federal government has agreed to provide the land and staffing for the museum and finance its maintenance, he said.

"It's a huge volume of artifacts," Benson said. "It's a fantastic collection."

The speaker said Keating had previously expressed strong support for the museum "and has repeatedly said he will support projects like this."