Two groups awarded tourism grants, totaling over $40k

By Kay Braddock 

Two groups dedicated to promoting the area and the story of Evelyn Cameron have been awarded tourism grants to help aid in their efforts.
The Montana Department of Commerce announced last week that of the 33 applications received, two Terry groups were awarded grant funds from the Tourism Infrastructure Investment Program (TIIP). The Evelyn Cameron Heritage Inc will receive $24,000 while the Prairie County Museum has been awarded $20,000. Both groups received the full amount requested. 
Of the seven projects awarded, the two Terry groups requested the least amount.
The Eastern Plains Economic Development Corporation prepared the grant applications for both groups.
“Tourism is really important in our region and these two projects are important to Prairie County and Terry,” Eastern Plains EDC Executive Director Jason Rittal said. 
Rittal headed up the museum’s grant application while Eastern Plains EDC assistant Elizabeth Smith worked on the grant application for the ECH. The boards of each group were involved in the process. 
“They are both strong projects and in the end they compliment each other,” Rittal said.
Both groups were required to match $1 for every $2 provided by TIIP grant funds. The grant funds awarded to the ECH will be used to continue the group’s efforts in transforming the old Rialto Theater into the Evelyn Cameron Cultural Center.
A 1-hour fire rated ceiling for the main floor will be installed using the grant funds and the $12,000 matching funds, along with installing stud walls and insulation, and a main floor furnace and air conditioning system. 
“TIIP typically likes to fund projects that are going to be really visible in the community,” Smith said, noting ECH is at a “pivotal point” in their project plans.
Those plans include preserving and displaying over 800 original Cameron photographs along with establishing the facility as a tourist destination to house cultural events. 
The Prairie County Museum will use their grant money to  repair the exterior of the museum building and to rewire and improve lighting in the adjacent Cameron Gallery.  
The $20,000 in grant funds was matched with local funding for improvements that have already been recently completed, including the installation of new carpeting for the Cameron Gallery building, a new roof for the Homestead building, and improvements made to the exterior of the Cameron Gallery. 
The total project cost is about $30,400.
Victor Bjornberg of the state tourism office pointed to the efforts both groups have made to tell the Cameron story.
“That was what really caught the attention of the scoring committee,” Bjornberg said. “The Evelyn Cameron story is certainly a unique story that if you want to learn about it, Terry is the place you need to go.”
Published Dec. 1, 2010

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