- Associated Press - Monday, November 19, 2018

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - The U.S. Marshals Museum has obtained a building permit valued at $19 million that will allow it to complete construction of the U.S. Marshals Service’s national museum on the banks of the Arkansas River.

Fort Smith issued the permit Nov. 2 after museum officials submitted construction plans that included exhibit designs for the 53,000-square-foot structure on Riverfront Drive north of downtown.

“It’s a full permit,” city building official Jimmie Deer said. “They can complete the project. They got all their approvals.”

The museum paid $33,536.50 in fees for the building permit, money Deer said will go into the city’s general fund.

Museum President and CEO Patrick Weeks said he’s expecting steel for the structure to begin arriving soon as crews with CDI Construction Inc. of Little Rock finish pouring the concrete foundation.

Workers poured 17,000 square feet of concrete earlier this month after installing plumbing and electrical infrastructure. Three more pours, each of about 12,000 square feet, are expected, Weeks said.

After years of planning, design and fundraising, Weeks said, it was a special moment to stand on the concrete slab, look out on the Arkansas River and realize the museum would be open this time next year. The building will be called the Mary Carleton and Robert A. Young III Building.

The museum is scheduled to open Sept. 24, the 230th anniversary of President George Washington’s establishment of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

After an expected surge of visitors to the new museum in its first two years, the champagne effect, Weeks said, officials have estimated that the museum will attract 125,000 visitors a year, providing a boost for tourism and the local economy.

While people from all across the country will be drawn to the museum, Weeks said, most visitors will drive from a distance of about two hours from Fort Smith.

The museum and surrounding grounds will be in the shape of the marshals’ five-pointed star badge. The west-facing point will feature a roof rising 52 feet high and large glass walls to offer a view of the Arkansas River. The north- and south-facing points of the roof will cover the office and retail spaces of the museum. The two east-facing points of the star will be landscaped, Weeks said.

The museum and its 1,000-items collection will feature five galleries: Defining Marshals; The Campfire Stories Under the Stars; Frontier Marshals; A Changing Nation; and Modern Marshals.

The exhibits are being designed by Thinkwell: The Experience Company, a Los Angeles company that has designed experiences for a variety of venues around the world.

The museum will include the Samuel M. Sicard Hall of Honor to recognize marshals killed in the line of duty, a National Learning Center, conference rooms, a general office, retail space and a large lobby for community gatherings.

The museum also will feature an exterior dining area, green space, a full-service restaurant and a plaza donated by the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma that will feature an original sculpture by Cherokee-Pawnee artist Dan HorseChief.

Of the $58.6 million project cost, about $17.8 million remains to be raised. In addition to museum construction, and exhibits design and installation, the project includes endowments, furniture, fixtures and equipment, contingencies and first-year operating expenses.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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