It's full steam ahead for Mansura Depot Museum project


    The Mansura Train Depot Museum project will be going full steam ahead after all.
    The Mansura Town Council met in special session Nov. 28 to consider whether to award a $294,800 contract to Scallan Contractors for the grant-funded project. The council unanimously approved going ahead with the project and awarding the contract to Scallan.
    Contractor Brent Scallan addressed the council about the project. 
    Town officials expressed some concerns over future maintenance and funding for the museum, but decided the benefits of the historical museum are worth those costs.
    “This will be a place to show the history of Mansura, but will also be a place to hold community functions,” Mayor Kenneth Pickett said. “School children will be able to come to the museum. It will aid tourism efforts and also be used for senior citizen activities. It will be something for Mansura to be proud of.”
    Pickett said he has already talked to other organizations about the possibility of future funding for operations. He said the town will seek additional grants to further improve the site.
    “It will be good for the community,” the mayor added.
    The council hesitated in approving the project at its Nov. 14 meeting. Pickett urged aldermen to “think, wonder and pray about it” before making a final decision.
    Scallan’s bid was about $130,000 lower than his closest competitor, but still about $17,600 more than the grant -- which was approved nine years ago but only recently funded.
    The town has already spent $19,000 and owes $12,000 more for the architectural fees to Coco & Co. of Simmesport.
    In addition, the town must provide $13,860 in local funds to match the federal grant and cover the additional $17,600 that exceeds the original project estimate -- a total local cost of $62,460. 
    The bulk of the project is paid for by  a  $277,200 grant from the federal Transportation Enhancement Fund. The grant program is  administered by the state Department of Transportation & Development.
    Pickett said construction will probably not begin until late January or early February.
   Town officials will be considering future funding options. One possible source would be to have local businesses provide ongoing funding to sponsor exhibits in the museum.
   The depot site dates back to about 1904 when William Edenborn established the LR&N through Avoyelles Parish.