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Museum going up as aviation park nears fundraising goal

You’ve seen a change in the landscape if you’ve driven by the intersection of Three Springs Road and Smallhouse Road recently, and that change is only going to continue.

Aviation Heritage Park, which since its establishment in 2009 has honored southcentral Kentucky’s rich aviation history with aircraft displays, now has the skeleton of a brick-and-mortar addition that promises to launch AHP to new heights.

Despite delays brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and a fundraising campaign that hasn’t yet reached its goal, a $2.5 million, 11,000-square-foot museum is going up at the park that is near the inline hockey rink at Basil Griffin Park.

The museum that will look like a 1930s-era airplane hangar has been in the works since 2018 and was originally slated to be completed in 2020.

As the steel skeleton attests, work on the structure is moving toward a late 2021 opening while AHP leaders are trying to find the final dollars to make that happen.

“We are nearing completion of phase one, which is all the foundation with structural steel and the underground plumbing and electric,” said Joe Tinius, president of the AHP board of directors. “This week and next we’ll be pouring the floor slabs and have all the foundation done.”

After that, Tinius said AHP board members will meet with staff from the Scott, Murphy and Daniel construction company that is building the museum and come up with a plan for phase two, which will include building walls and a roof.

“That should start sometime in May,” Tinius said. “It will probably be two to three months of work. By late summer, we should be ready for phase three, which is the interior work. Our goal is to be in the building by the end of the year.”

Meeting that timetable will depend greatly on meeting the $2.5 million fundraising goal. Tinius said the AHP board has raised more than half that total, and a partnership with a national, military-oriented organization called the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association is expected to provide a boost.

That group had its fundraising plans stymied by the pandemic, but Tinius believes the organization that has grown beyond its original membership of Vietnam-era military pilots will pick up momentum.

“They’re just in the beginning stages of fundraising,” Tinius said. “They had to cancel their annual reunion, and they’ve had to reorganize how they’re going to go about fundraising.”

The AHP museum will be home base for the Red River Valley Association, and Tinius said the museum will include a display to honor RRVA co-founder Howard “Scrappy” Johnson, a decorated U.S. Air Force pilot who grew up in Louisville and is in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

Tinius expects the museum to also contain memorabilia and artifacts from the life of Victor Strahm, who spent part of his childhood in Bowling Green before becoming a World War I flying ace.

The museum will also be home to a Piper Cub of the type flown by pioneering female aviator Willa Brown, who was born in Glasgow.

“The Piper Cub will hang in the museum, but we’ll have a system that will allow us to display it on the floor as well,” Tinius said.

In addition to such artifacts, the museum will have a classroom component that will allow it to be used as an educational site.

“We have already received a grant for a flight simulator,” Tinius said. “That will be part of the classroom, where students can come and learn about aviation. It will be an educational facility along with a museum.”

Building the museum will also allow the park to add to its outdoor display, which now includes seven aircraft.

“We’ll have a minimum of four additional pads (for aircraft) when the project is done,” Tinius said. “We could possibly have six more. We could have 10 to 12 aircraft on display outdoors when all is said and done.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

Booker 'strongly considering' 2022 Senate run in Kentucky

FRANKFORT – Democrat Charles Booker, who lost last year’s Senate primary, said he’s “strongly considering” another run for the Senate – this time against Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green.

Booker, a Black former state lawmaker from Louisville, returned to progressive ideas such as a universal basic income and universal health care as he raised the prospect of mounting a 2022 campaign.

“I’m strongly considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2022 because I believe our work is not done and we have the ability to tell a new story for Kentucky,” Booker said Sunday on Kentucky Educational Television.

Booker said he’ll decide soon whether to enter the campaign.

Booker seized momentum late in last year’s Democratic Senate primary on the strength of a “Hood to the Holler” campaign that highlighted the common interests of Black Democrats in the cities and middle- and low-income White people in the mountains of eastern Kentucky – which he collectively defined as “people in forgotten places.”

His effort caught fire late in the campaign, but he fell just short and lost to Amy McGrath. McGrath was soundly defeated by Republican Mitch McConnell in November.

Booker would face an uphill fight against Paul in GOP-trending Kentucky. Paul is a libertarian-leaning Republican with a strong national brand.

After his primary loss, Booker created the Hood to the Holler advocacy group to help build rural-urban coalitions on health care and anti-poverty issues.

“Those things aren’t partisan,” Booker said. “We just allow national politics to dictate the narrative, and people like Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have told us we’re divided.”

South Union to host historic baseball game

Historic South Union Shaker Village in Logan County will take a step back in time when it hosts baseball games that are straight out of the 19th century.

The Bluegrass Barons will play the Canton, Michigan, Cornshuckers in a vintage baseball doubleheader at the village from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 27.

The Barons are a vintage baseball club based in Lexington that plays baseball under rules from 1869 with vintage uniforms and equipment that would have been used in that era. Their home field is Waveland Historical Site in Lexington.

Pitchers must throw underhanded. Fielders must make plays barehanded, since gloves were not allowed until later.

The team plays from March through October at different locations in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

The event is open to the general public, and admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 6-12. All proceeds from the event will go toward the village.

South Union Shaker Village Curator of Collections Sally Givens said the Barons’ Ben Clouse contacted the village about setting up the opportunity.

“They have played at other historic sites in Kentucky, usually a bit farther north from here, but they were going to be in the area and saw a chance to do something with us,” Givens said. “We are hoping we draw out a new demographic and a large crowd. A lot of people who come out here are just in awe with the setting, and they call it a type of oasis in the country.”

Givens said both games will be seven innings in length. The games will only be canceled due to severe weather that includes lightning. Then games will still be played in rain.

The museum said those who plan to attend should bring their own chairs, blankets and snacks as the games will be played on the village lawn where they are no bleachers.

Fans will be properly socially distanced as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want everyone to feel as safe as possible during this event,” Givens said.

Located at 896 Shaker Museum Road in Logan County, the South Union Shaker Village was founded by Shakers in 1807 and remained active until 1922.

The National Park Service said the village was formerly comprised of 225 buildings and 6,000 acres of land.

Now, the Shaker Museum at South Union owns and manages eight Shaker buildings and 600 acres of original farmland. It houses the largest collection of Southern Shaker furniture in the United States.

Until further notice, museum hours are from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday due to pandemic.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdaily news.com.