Hammett says Secretary of State will run museum

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office will take over operation of the planned Louisiana Delta Music Museum Aug. 15, state Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday, told the Ferriday Chamber of Commerce in its Monday meeting.

But getting state lawmakers to pass House Bill 842, which authorized the takeover, wasn’t always easy, he said. In a tight budget year, getting lawmakers to OK a management agreement that would cost the state about $117,000 a year was a hard sell.

At one point, the bill, which was authored by Hammett, was referred back to the Appropriations Committee because it dealt with spending state dollars. In the same committee meeting, a legislator from St. John the Baptist Parish was also asking for money for two museums in his district. Those bills were killed. Hammett’s museum bill, however, was approved.

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The chamber has operated Ferriday’s town museum since 1995 in a former bank building on North E.E. Wallace Boulevard, but the new museum will have room for many more exhibits featuring musicians from throughout northeast Louisiana.

&uot;The argument for (the new museum) was huge – it was beginning to outgrow what we could do for it as the Town of Ferriday,&uot; Hammett said.

The new museum will be located in a former post office building on Louisiana Avenue. Crews have already done many renovations to the new building, such as restoring hardwood floors and repairing the roof.

The facility’s back doors will be replaced, and a committee working to complete the museum is getting estimates of how much it would cost to build exhibits.

&uot;We’re also working to make one of the bathrooms handicapped accessible by mid-August, and we’re hoping by that time we’ll be able to move in&uot; to the new museum building, said committee member Chris Vaughan.

In addition, a capital outlay bill approved by the Legislature included $100,000 to further improve the museum facility, and that money should be available in the next 60 to 90 days, Hammett said.

Meanwhile, plans continue for the Secretary of State’s Office to sponsor a &uot;Music Cavalcade&uot; music tour that could extend all the way from Jackson to Shreveport with concerts all along the route, Hammett said.

Secretary of State Fox McKeithen has said the grand opening of the Louisiana Delta Music Museum could be held the last weekend of March as part of that tour.

Meanwhile, the Ferriday Post Office is looking at the possibility of getting special cancellation stamps advertising the museum, said chamber President and Ferriday Postmaster De Rice.