Supporter rally for Port Columbus

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Crowds of people came out to show their support for Port Columbus. The Civil War Naval Museum says it is in danger of being forced to close its doors.

Paige Fowler is afraid this might be the first and last time she and her 12 year old daughter visit Port Columbus.

"The stuff that's here, you won't see in history books, you won't see on a movie, you won't see in a school library," said Fowler.

Crowds of people even some pirates and sailors came to show their support for Port Columbus.  The Civil War Naval museum has been around since the 1960s, but this may be one of the last times people look at the historic artifacts.

"A reduction of 70 percent especially with about 60 days notice, that virtually just puts us in a position where we will have to make arrangements to close," said Bruce Smith, Port Columbus Executive Director.

Smith told News Leader Nine the city's proposed budget cuts funding to Port Columbus from $300,000 a year to less than $80,000.

But, Smith said the museum is a key part to helping the economy of Columbus especially South Columbus.

"Now with the Infantry Museum down there and other developments that we hear are coming up and down Victory Drive.  I mean to have this place buttoned up and closed would hardly be a great viewscape for people coming into South Columbus," said Smith.

For people like Fowler, the idea of not being able to see these artifacts again steals a way to connect with the past.

"It shows the sacrifice that these people gave for because we hear oh well we need to support the military, we need to support the country, we need to support the state but how did we get here," said Fowler.

Port Columbus said they are willing to compromise with the city offering a 17% cut in their funding.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told News Leader Nine she does not want to see the museum shut its doors but wants them to look at a new business plan.

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