Group seeks donations to keep VNMP open during shutdown

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, December 29, 2018

Not even the current weeklong government shutdown or a severe storm can keep the Vicksburg National Military Park closed.

Bess Mitchell Averett, who heads the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, called out for volunteers to help clear the tour road Friday morning from the trees and debris that had blocked access of the military park for visitors following Thursday’s storm.

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She said several volunteers stepped up and gathered Friday morning to get the park reopened because most of the maintenance team is furloughed.

“And Adam Cook with Cook Tractor stepped up and offered his tractor with grapple to get the work done faster and get the visitors back in the park faster,” Averett said. “We really have an awesome community.”

According to VNMP Superintendent Bill Justice the military park and visitors center are both open to visitors, with the exception of the National Cemetery, which has several trees down currently and assessment of the damage will be done when the government shutdown is over.

Donations needed

According to Averett, the cost to operate the VNMP at minimal level is approximately $2,000 per day during the shutdown.

“We are committed to seeing through this process as long as we can,” Averett said. “We work together all year on important projects and events for VNMP. We can think of no higher priority project we can take on than keeping the gates and museums open and sharing this amazing treasure with the public.”

Averett said donations have been coming in, but more assistance is needed.

“We have been successful in our efforts to date through the generosity of a handful of lead donors and redirecting funds from other projects,” Averett said. “But the expense is ongoing.”

The nonprofit has set up a donation link on its Facebook page.

“Every gift matters and every gift can help us keep VNMP open,” Averett said. “Donations of any size are so valuable.”