Funding Helps Realize Museum

October 7 — Hobbs, NM. Thanks to a partnership with the J.F Maddox Foundation and the assistance of Rep. Don Whitaker, D - Jal, the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame will open to the public soon after the first of the year.

On Thursday, the Foundation presented New Mexico Junior College and museum officials with a $1.35 million grant check to be used to enhance the 29,000 sq. ft. facility.

“This partnership is really valuable, not only to this institution, but to the county,” said NMJC President Steve McCleery. “This is by far our largest collaborative project. I know that we would not have the facility that we have without the input and planning assistance that the Foundation has been willing to provide.”

The museum, which will house a permanent exhibit for the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees as well as other pieces from the Hall of Fame, is scheduled to open Saturday, Jan. 14. According to Karen Wiley, Executive Director of the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, the public grand opening will be a celebration of  “the history and culture of Lea County, and to embrace this great opportunity to expand our cultural awareness.”

Funds from the Maddox grant are going to be used for capital projects and to enhance the facility as the need arises, according to Wiley and Lisa Seed, Director of the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame.

“None of this money is going for operational expenses,” Wiley said.

The Maddox funds are not the only funding source that has made this project possible, according to McCleery. Whitaker has been instrumental in gaining more than $4 million of state funds for the museum.

“We could not have realized this project without Don’s help,” McCleery said.

Both Wiley and Seed are in the process of arranging for consultants to assist with the moving of the Cowboy Hall of Fame pieces to the new facility. All of the moving should be done by the end of November, which will give the women time to make certain everything is ready for the opening before the college breaks for Christmas vacation.

“We are excited about the move,” Seed said. “I have butterflies when I think about it. I mean, this has been something that we have dreamed about for so long, and now — with the help of both of our boards, the NMJC Board and the Foundation — it is becoming a reality.”

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Phone: 575.392.4510, 1.800.657.6260

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