By Holly Wise
Killeen Daily Herald
It's not a secret that Fort Hood and the greater Killeen area have a long history, but news of efforts to centralize that history in a national museum has spread slowly despite more than a $1 million investment from the Killeen Economic Development Corporation.
A group of Killeen professionals has quietly been assembling an ambitious plan to construct a national military museum in the Fort Hood area.
The Mounted Warfare Foundation was created in January to act as the fundraising arm for the future National Museum for Mounted Warfare and Soldier Center.
The foundation was formally organized in January after more than a year of planning by the Fort Hood-Central Texas Regional Museum Working Group.
The 13-member group includes Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce President John Crutchfield, Killeen Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper, interim City Manager Glenn Morrison, Pat Kaufman, Terry Tuggle, retired Col. Bill Parry, retired Lt. General Paul Funk and Ann Farris.
Manning the foundation
"This is a relatively new venture," said Funk, president and CEO of the foundation. "It's been talked about a lot and there have been some efforts to organize it in the past, but the mayor of Killeen and the commanding general of Fort Hood really got behind it last fall."
Funk said the foundation is up and running, and "we're working hard to write all the standard operating procedures, rules and bylaws, and get all that blessed by the board."
The foundation's board is composed of 12 members and five ex-officios. Board members are state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Killeen Mayor Tim Hancock, Kaufman, Tuggle, Farris, Diane Connell, Otis Evans, Funk, William Grimsley, Bill Kliewer, Dave Palmer and Jose Segarra.
The Killeen Economic Development Corporation granted the foundation its request for a three-year, $1.3 million operating budget in January.
"The planning group went to the KEDC and requested funding for (three years) to hire General Funk and Larry Phelps to actually man this project," Crutchfield said.
Retired Col. Larry Phelps is the foundation's vice president of business development and operations.
The KEDC's budget is funded by the city of Killeen as a line item in the general fund. The budget included $781,771 for the KEDC for the fiscal year 2010-11. Killeen Executive Director of Information Hilary Shine said once the money is handed over to the KEDC, the city does not regulate how it is spent.
While the foundation is operational, the museum it's working to fund will remain in its conceptual stage for a long time.
"In the world of crawl, walk, run, we're still in the crib," Phelps said.
Prior to the foundation's conception in January, the museum's working group requested proposals from various museum consulting agencies. Lord Cultural Services, a Toronto-based company, was chosen to develop the project. Phelps said the company recently completed phase one of the master planning stage, and will have the remaining two phases finished in mid-September.
The price tag for the master planning stage is $75,230, according to documents obtained by the Herald.
Phelps said it's too early in the planning process to determine a location for the museum, but minutes from the Fort Hood-Central Texas Regional Museum Working Group's Oct. 21 meeting mentions the city's interest in establishing a museum as part of its downtown revitalization. The document later questions if there could be a relationship between revitalization and the museum.
Phelps said last week the museum will be located off post to make it readily accessible to the public.
In August, the city purchased several pieces of downtown property for about $500,000. At the time, city officials said the property would be used for public meeting space, possibly a park or city building.
"The Downtown Action Plan (approved in 2010) envisions that block to eventually become a sort of 'central park,'" Shine said in an email Thursday.
The property is at 100 E. Avenue C, 105 Avenue D and 314 N. Second St.
Shine said the property will remain leased to its current tenants with the possibility of developing it later.
No one agency
The project is a partnership between multiple entities: Fort Hood, the Defense Department, the city of Killeen and the KEDC.
"The chamber's involvement has been really to facilitate the development of a collaborative effort to determine and plan the development of a joint museum," Crutchfield said.
"It's so typical of that Fort Hood-Central Texas community," Phelps said. "The leadership of Fort Hood and the city of Killeen collaborated to get it kicked off and started."
Phelps said the mission of the foundation and subsequent museum is to tell the story of Fort Hood and Central Texas "growing up together."
Scott Hamric, curator of the 3rd Cavalry Museum - one of the two museums at Fort Hood - said the future museum could be a positive thing for the two existing ones.
"I'm just taking a wait-and- see attitude on the development of it," he said.
His knowledge has been used in the planning stages for the national museum, which might envelop the two existing ones.
"There has been discussion that may be what happens - exactly what form that would take, we don't know," he said.
Cosper said the city is excited for the opportunity "to support and help bring to fruition a Mounted Warfare Museum that would tell the story of Fort Hood and our great heroes."
"This has been a dream of many for many years," Cosper said. "We have been working very diligently on this for the past year."
For more information, go to www.mountedwarfarefoundation.org.
Contact Holly Wise at email@example.com or (254) 501-7555.