Hours cut likely at Statehouse

While they hope to keep all of the state’s historic sites – including the Vandalia Statehouse – open, officials of the agency overseeing those sites are faced with reducing hours of operation.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is working on a plan to address a 19-percent cut in its budget, according to IHPA spokesman Chris Wills.
“Our goal is to have in place by the beginning of August a decision, and our goal is to keep everything (all historic sites) open and running,” Wills said.
“We’re trying to figure out where to reduce hours,” he said. “We’re going to tighten our belts everywhere.”
Wills said that as they work on a plan to address a budget cut of about $1.1 million, agency officials will also be working with state legislators on ways to restore funding.
If those efforts fail, Wills said, “come January and February, we would have to close some sites.”
Currently, the Vandalia Statehouse is among the state historic sites that are open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, with winter hours on those days being 9 a.m.-4 p.m., according to Statehouse Site Superintendent Steve Riddle.
Riddle is one of two employees at the Statehouse, the other being Kim Lake, who assists with tours and maintenance of the Statehouse.
He said that for the time being, Lake is scheduled to work as a full-time employee through October, though that could change based on how the agency addresses the budget cut.
Both Wills and Riddle said that volunteers will play an important role in the future of the state’s historic sites.
“Volunteers can always help to make our operations better, and we appreciate everything they do,” Wills said. “We could not do what we do without them.”
Riddle said that the effort to get volunteers involved in Statehouse operations include work on reorganizing the site’s support group, which will bear the name of “Friends of Vandalia Statehouse.”
“Now more than ever, we are going to need volunteers,” Riddle said.
Volunteers help to guide tourists through the Statehouse, as well as assisting with regular maintenance of the old state capitol and with duties during special events such as the Grande Levée in the fall and the Christmas Open House.
“As we gear up for this (latest budget cut), we are going to need more volunteers, both with tours and with such things as site preparation,” Riddle said.
 

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