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Texas & Pacific depot construction full steam ahead in Baird

Community leaders in Baird have raised enough money to move forward with a project to restore its 92-year-old Texas & Pacific Railroad Depot.

Betty Henson, president and CEO of the nonprofit Baird Foundation, announced Tuesday that the group has raised money to match a $50,000 challenge grant from the Dodge Jones Foun-dation. The foundationís grant, a loan, a donation of property and fund drives have raised the $296,000 the city needed for its portion of the project.

The total cost of the 1911 T&P Railroad Depot, Visitor Center and Transportation Museum project is $1,480,630. Eighty percent of the total, or $1,184,000, is coming from the Texas Department of Transportationís Enhancement Funding Program.

The next step is for the Texas Department of Transportation and the Baird Foundation to meet to select an architect, a 90-day process. Henson said after an architect is hired, the project will begin six to 12 months later.

She said it is a relief to have finally raised all the necessary funds. The foundation raised money through silent auctions, direct-mail solicitations, a banquet and other events.

The project will benefit the community in many ways, she said.

"We need this activity, the jobs, and all the other things that go with it like community pride," Henson said.

The foundation raised about $43,000 through private and public donations. In addition, the city of Baird donated the property ó valued at about $92,000 ó on which the depot is located to Callahan County, the lead governmental body for the restoration project. The Development Corporation of Baird took out a loan of $112,000 from the Texas Leverage Fund for the project. Revenue from a half-cent sales tax collected by the development corporation will be used as collateral for the loan.

She said the visitorís center and museum will also benefit the many tourists who visit the "Antiques Capitol of West Texas."
"This will make the town more hospitable, and it will provide information to visitors," she said.

The project will also include meeting rooms for the community, an outdoor pavilion and recreational vehicle parking.

"We feel that it will be a real catalyst for Baird economically," she said.

Contact staff writer Katherine Sayre at [email protected] or 676-6763.

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Katherine Sayre