Sunday, August 26, 2001

Historic site still in need

Flood left Heritage Village with an expensive mess

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SHARONVILLE — WANTED: Carpenters, plumbers, drywall installers, landscapers with a Bobcat, outdoor laborers and money.

        The Heritage Village Museum in Sharon Woods is still trying to dig out from damage and the financial crunch from the July 17 flooding. It can use more volunteer elbow grease and material donations.

        “We've been able to clean up the (building) interiors, but we still need a lot of volunteer help with gravel lane repairs, debris cleanup and general outside work,” said Jon Scharf, executive director of the village.

        “We could really use someone with a Bobcat to do some grading,”

        There are about 15 historic buildings donated and moved to Sharon Woods. Operator Historic Southwest Ohio is a non-profit dedicated to preserving the area's history.

        Total damage to the facility is $126,820, Mr. Scharf said, of which $36,000 may be eligible for some financial relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the State of Ohio. If approved, 75 percent to 80 percent of the $36,000 could be made available.

        However, Mr. Scharf said, most of the remaining $90,820 in loss cannot be recovered. Heritage Village already has tapped its $10,000 reserve for future needs and used it to restore basic utilities and do cleanup inside the structures. No additional funding remains.

        “This has cost us about 25 percent of our annual operating budget already and, like many homeowners, our insurance does not cover the damages,” he said.

        A public plea for help shortly after the flood brought in about $4,000 in donations and 50 volunteers who performed about 300 hours of free labor. That included several members of the Princeton High School Junior ROTC and the Sycamore High School girls cross-country team, said Crystal Ferrara, Historic Southwest's director of operations.

        At the Hayner House, where the village offices and major displays are located, water rose 9 feet in the basement. Two years ago, a $20,000 private grant was used to upgrade public restrooms there.

        “About $16,000 of that was lost in the flood,” Mr. Scharf said. “Drywall, woodwork, plumbing fixtures and lighting was destroyed.”

        Tax-deductible donations may be made to: Historic Southwest Ohio, Attn: Flood Relief, P.O. Box 62475, Cincinnati 45262. Donations of manpower and materials may be coordinated by calling 563-9484. Volunteer laborers are welcome from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

        The Heritage Village Museum reopens to the public Saturday with the kick-off of “Quilts from Our Own Hands,” a selection of hand-made, high quality quilts by the Heritage Museum quilters, the Gibson Girls.

        The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 9, may be viewed at Hayner House during regular museum hours: noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children 5-11 years old.


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