Mount Rushmore memorial gets $400K from nonprofit
By Andrea J. Cook
Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY (AP) — The strong connection Mount Rushmore Society volunteers and contributors have for Mount Rushmore National Memorial has once again produced generous results for the memorial.
The society's contributions to the memorial totaled $432,745 by the end of its 2013 fiscal year. Society members heard the final figures at the annual meeting last month.
"We're very proud of the support we're able to provide the memorial," Diana Saathoff, the society's executive director recently said. The society's contributions typically run between $300,000 and $500,000 annually, depending on projects and goals, she said.
"I don't think there's anything stronger than the heart of a volunteer," she said. "The Mount Rushmore Society is made up of volunteers, many from South Dakota and many from the Black Hills area."
Those volunteers and contributors are dedicated to preserving the memorial and giving visitors a memorable experience, she said.
"It is through the generosity of those members and donors and sponsors of our events that we are able to reach these goals on behalf of the projects for the Park Service," Saathoff said.
The National Park Service contributions were made possible through a bequest from the Betty Nelson Estate, revenue from Mount Rushmore Bookstores and Mount Rushmore Audio Tours, various sponsors, parking garage revenue, in-kind donations and unrestricted contributions, according to a news release.
The society's 2013 contributions included a $100,000 donation for continued sculpture maintenance, which is the first of five $100,000 gifts pledged for sculpture preservation.
An additional $200,667 in education and interpretive funding for the park was provided through revenue from the Mount Rushmore Bookstores and Mount Rushmore Audio Tours. Since 1993, the society has donated more than $2.5 million to support education programs at the memorial.
To make up for the federal budget cuts prompted by sequestration, the society donated $35,000 to continue the Evening Lighting Ceremony.
The society has also raised more than $340,000 toward its $390,000 goal for the construction of a Youth Exploration Center near the memorial. Saathoff hopes the National Park Service can begin construction on the center by the fall of 2014.
Last year, the society opened Mount Rushmore Memories, a gift shop in Hill City, as part of its plan to create a greater awareness of the memorial ahead of the memorial's 75th anniversary in 2016.
Society members elected three new board members during the annual meeting. Rollie Noem of Custer, Michelle Lints and Dr. Toni Logar, both of Rapid City, joined current board members Roxann Basham, Gary Brown, Joe Bruch, Justin Cutler, Judy Olson Duhamel, Bill Honerkamp, Kay Jorgensen, Phil Lampert and Gene Lebrun. Emeritus directors included Mike Derby, Al Johnson, Tom Griffith, Sid Goss and Nancy Gowen.
Andy Knight continues as the organization's president. Officers also include past president Ruth Samuelsen, vice president Judy Allen, secretary Tim Rabern and treasurer Leroy Ketel.