New Senate bill may help Virginia Museum of Transportation become a state agency

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 11:55 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A museum that will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year could get the funding it needs to not only stay open, but make improvements and hire more staff members.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation, in downtown Roanoke, is now part of Senate Bill 72, drafted by Roanoke Democratic Senator John Edwards.

Right now, the museum does not qualify for state funding since it’s not a state agency, but SB 72 looks to change that. A separate budget amendment, also recently filed, would give the museum $2 million annually.

“It’s [the museum] an economic driver that is unrecognized at this point, so the state could make it number one stable, number two, an opportunity to grow, because if the state pays your operating, and your benefits, and you become eligible for state retirement, you can hire employees who have a different stake in the future of the museum,” said former longtime museum Director Bev Fitzpatrick, who has played a role in the museum’s history since before the museum opened, when he was a teenager.

Fitzpatrick said while the museum was named the official transportation museum of the state in 1984, that move didn’t bring in any money initially. But throughout the years, the museum has found ways to rebound, such as when the 611 was rebuilt.

As of now, there is no timeline as to when the bill will be heard on the Senate floor. A new General Assembly session begins Wednesday.

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