Aviation Museum 'dead'
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
December 04, 2009 01:00 AM | 3907 views | 8 8 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA - Having run out of funding, the Aviation Museum and Discovery Center has ceased operations, terminating its three employees and closing its Roswell Street office, museum board members said Thursday.

"We are shut down as of now," AMDC Vice Chairman Micky Blackwell said. "We're dead."

Meantime, a vote by the Marietta Museum of History's board to obtain the aviation museum's assets could come as early as Tuesday. That's when the history museum board will conduct a special-called meeting on the issue, Brent Brown, chairman of the history board, said.

Blackwell said until October, the AMDC had pledges that would allow it to continue operating until year's end. The AMDC had an education program up and running, and had designed the plans for a museum building that was to be built at the corner of Atlanta Road and South Cobb Drive, where the AMDC stores six aircraft.

But when AMDC members approached the county commission to collect a $500,000 pledge the county had made several years ago, county officials said they didn't yet qualify to receive the grant, Blackwell said.

"Basically, the county said, 'no, the criteria for getting the money for building the building is that you guys need to have $2 million of money that is dedicated toward the building,'" Blackwell said.

Blackwell said there was a misunderstanding between his board and the county over how to count the $2 million the AMDC had to raise to be eligible for the county's grant.

The AMDC members thought the figure could include operating expenses. But Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Sam Olens said the AMDC had to raise $2 million for the capital project, and provided letters between the county and museum directors specifying the rules.

"So that meant that we were going to be about $1 million short of being able to qualify for the half million from the county," Blackwell said.

"Given that and recognizing where we were in October, all of a sudden our pledges started going blank, and the large donors that we were depending on were not coming through," largely because of the economic downturn, he said.

Blackwell said Lockheed had pledged to give $250,000, probably over a number of years, although he didn't know how much the organization had given to date.

That's when Blackwell approached MMH board chairman Brent Brown, about the MMH taking the assets of the AMDC, Blackwell said.

But after speaking with Brown about the proposal, Mayor Bill Dunaway came out denouncing the idea, which Blackwell said scared off the AMDC's remaining donors.

"All of a sudden our bank account went to zero," Blackwell said.

Blackwell said the only cost the MMH would incur by taking the assets of the AMDC is $2,500 for insurance on the aircraft and artifacts. Without employees to keep the AMDC a "going concern," AMDC Board Chairman Chuck Clay said the U.S. Navy will reclaim the aircraft it has donated, which is why the aircraft need to come under the umbrella of the MMH, an accredited and established museum.

"We're not an ongoing concern," Clay said.

"The planes will not be there. I can't tell you whether it will be six months or a year. The United States Navy will take their planes back. The United States Air Force that have promised them will obviously take those back. They're not going to leave them sitting here with a defunct organization that is sitting there in name only. They will leave them with an accredited museum," Clay said.

Brown said he put together a history board task force to examine the proposal, choosing the members of his board he knew would do the necessary work. He chose Harry Lembeck, spouse of Superintendent Emily Lembeck, Stacy Brown, a former AMDC employee; Kaye Long, Blackwell's daughter; and Harlon Crimm, who also serves on the AMDC board.

Alice Summerour, a Marietta lawyer who is on the history museum's board, has been critical of the proposal. Brown accused her and others asking questions of "throwing grenades from the sidelines" while his task force does its work.

Blackwell said the community has done "almost nothing" to preserve the area's aviation heritage and display it.

"Not even the history museum has very much at all about our heritage, and for us to let the work that has been done by a lot of people just go down the tank without trying to save it and put it somewhere and hold it is almost unconscionable on the part of this community," he said.
Comments
(8)
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Bigger Idea
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December 14, 2009
Wow, what mean and short-sided comments. The city of Marietta is missing a huge opportunity, not just in an Aviation Museum, but in gaining joint civilian operations at Dobbins RAFB. All great museums started as bone yards first: NAS Pensacola, Wright-Patterson, Davis-Mothan, and Warner Robins. Marietta and Smyrna should join forces to obtain civilan aviation operations at Dobbins, to improve general aviation and business access close to town. Then a Museum would become a natural component of the airfield operations.
Ole-timer
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December 05, 2009
Yes all the Marietta Museum of History has to do is pay $2,500...right. Sounds like one of those infomercials. The Marietta Museum of History is a success, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, or kill it. Maybe if Dan Cox had been on the Air Museum committee from the beginning it would not have died. Don't burden him with it now.

The city is still fighting the eyesore at the South Marietta Parkway and I-75. How about the eyesore at South Cobb Drive and Atlanta Road. Looks like a graveyard for old falling apart aircraft. Let it go! Thank goodness the Air Force and the Navy will remove the wrecks and none too soon. Maybe the DOT will remove that old weathered sign that people look at and say "where?"

And to "Tapped Out", it doesn't need to be undertaken again, it just needs an undertaker.
air head
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December 04, 2009
Why couldn't they restore that beautiful house behind the planes for the museum?
BSJ
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December 04, 2009
"Where was this museum at?"

There isn't a museum yet. There are some aircraft parked outside waiting for it to be built. The article is talking about not being able to get the money to build the building.
Whattha?
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December 04, 2009
Where was this museum at? I had "no" clue that it was here in Georgia, much less off of Roswell Road. Perhaps a bit of advertising would have gone a long way to preserving this museum. Again, ive lived here in Georgia for 37 years, follow military jets and aviation pretty closely and never heard of this museum. Its a shame.

Retiree
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December 04, 2009
Mr. Blackwell, blaming "the community" for this failure is NOT the way to garner support, either now or in the future. We support the Museum of History, the William Root House, the Strand Theater, the Pilgrimage Tour, and numerous other non-profit ongoing operations. I don't feel "unconscionable" at all!
mk-yard art
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December 04, 2009
I have an idea for that corner of South Cobb Drive & Atlanta Rd., between Marietta & Smyrna. How 'bout big plastic blow up figures of mayors' Dunaway & Bacon.

Cheap, ugly, asthetically unappealing, fake & full of hot air!
Tapped Out
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December 04, 2009
Sorry Mr. Blackwell,

I guess the unconscionable community is feeling a little "tapped out" after having to step in and restore the Goldstein's Strand theater.

It was a noble endeavor and effort. Maybe it can be undertaken again.
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