Aug. 14--Funds are starting to be allocated through the Aiken Together capital campaign, nearly one year after its official kickoff announcement in September.
The campaign is seeking $2.9 million in pledged donations over the span of five years to fund three institutions -- the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum; the Center for African American Arts, History and Culture; and the Savannah River Heritage Site.
Tim Simmons, Aiken Railroad Depot Committee president, said pledges have risen to about $390,000, and of that, just short of $115,000 of those donations have been collected. Simmons said so far, they've allocated $102,000 -- $42,000 went toward the Center for African American Arts, History and Culture; $28,000 went toward the Friends of the Railroad Depot; and $32,000 went toward the Savannah River Heritage Site.
"Every month we get more and more pledges," Simmons said. "Once the money starts to build up and when each entity has a project they need to do, then we can allocate the money out. Right now, I think we can allocate funds at least once a year."
The Center for African American Arts, History and Culture will receive the largest portion of the funds to help put the finishing touches on its home, the Immanuel Institute. Currently, the Center is using its money for electrical issues inside.
The Savannah River Heritage Site, which will honor SRS history and those who worked there, is using its first funds to clean up the inside of its new home, located in the Old Dibble Library on Laurens Street.
"For the Depot, we're using funds to build the deck out back, which we've also been working with the City of Aiken on," Simmons said. "So, we're in the process of getting all the plans approved and hopefully we get started in the next year."
The deck's purpose at the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum will provide access to the facilities off the ground, including the old railroad cars.
"We're very encouraged and pleased with the support we've been getting on all three projects," Simmons said. "At the Visitors and Train Museum, in the last 12 months and July, we received over 13,000 visitors, 8,000 of those being from out of town. When we get that deck and cars running, that number will increase. This will help spread interest to the people who will come, which will then spur our economy. It's really positive for Aiken."
For more information about donations, call 706-724-1314 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.
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