With the use of the Star Bonds project, part of the funds go towards Boot Hill Museum for bringing in outside people to the community.

With plans for expansion, additional funding came from the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas recently.

The community foundation awarded $25,000 as well as $5,000 from a general fund, to go Boot Hill Museum's expansion project.

According to the museum, the funds will be used for the new building that is set to begin construction this fall.

Star Bonds will funds 78 percent of the expansion with the museum needing to raise the remaining $1 million.

The museum says its building with feature eight new exhibits, a temporary exhibit gallery, lobby and gift shop.

"The Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas kicked off our capital campaign with this generous grant money and we are excited to begin the fundraising effort for the museum expansion," said Laura Tawater, donor relations and marketing manager at Boot Hill Museum.

There will also be naming rights opportunities for exhibits in the new building as well as a special challenge coin program and heritage partners memberships, as part of the capital campaign.

"The construction and installation process will take some time and of course we are going to have to pay the builders and designers along the way, but we are looking at a completion date of around 2020." said Tawater.

The Boot Hill Museum capital campaign will feature stories from Dodge City historical figures, exhibit designs of the stories represented and artifacts not yet seen in public.

The museum is calling the campaign, Save Our Stories.

"We have so many treasures and items in storage that we can’t bring out into the museum because we are lacking space to display them," said Tawater.

One of the moves once the new building is ready, will be moving the People of the Plains exhibit into the new location.

"About 50 percent of our guests don’t make the hike up the stairs to see the People of the Plains exhibit because of the accessibility and because it’s separated from the Front Street exhibits," said Tawater.

"The new building will give us the opportunity to feature these stories and treasures in an easy way and no one will be able to miss them."

The new building will also hold the main entrance and gift shop as well as as feature a donor wall lobby.

"Anyone that makes a gift of a $1,000 or more will be able to have their name on the wall," said Tawater. "We want everyone to be able to have an opportunity to be on the new donor wall so there is an option to give over time on this amount as well."

The museum is expecting their attendance to double up to 160,000 visitors per year which they say will help boost the Dodge City economy as people will be occupying hotel rooms and dining out, once the new building is up and open.

"This will be a great and much needed addition to the museum and Dodge City and while we are expecting guests from out of the area to come visit the museum, we believe it will engage the locals too," Tawater said. "Education is important to us and creating more teacher and parent resources is a high priority.

"The new building will boast a 3,000-square foot temporary exhibit hall that will showcase traveling exhibits and also be used for educational presentations, temporary classrooms, hands-on workshops, and special events."

Tawater added that with the new building, it will help increase the school tour visits.

Currently, the museum sees more than 3,000 students during the Kansas Day tours that take place this month.

"The museum wants to reassure the community and visitors that the Front Street exhibits will remain the same and will continue to be a huge part of the Dodge City story," said Tawater. "As people begin their tour through the new building, they will still be able to go through the Front Street exhibits, watch the gunfights, see the variety shows, have some ice cream and get their old fashioned photo taken.

"The new building will be constructed along the fence line at the museum, next to the Great Western Hotel which is currently where the gift shop is located.

"The building space will use up some of the parking and some of the lawn at the museum.

"There will still be enough room for gunfights and the new building will feature a covered patio on the backside for people to be able to watch the gunfights in the shade and can be used for other outdoor events."

Tawater also added that the new interpretive plan will enhance the historic provenance and relevance of Dodge City.

"Exhibits will engage baby boomers, millennials, and people of all ages to experience and create unforgettable memories," she said. "The new exhibit space will keep the continuity of the authentic, rustic and intimate feel of the current exhibits and transport you back in time.

"We are grateful for the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas to invest in the future of Boot Hill Museum.

"They have also helped fund many other things the museum has needed in the past and we wouldn’t be able to continue like we have without their support through the years."

If anyone is interested in contributing to the capital campaign, Tawater said a website has been developed that is a feature of a one-time gift offer as well as a recurring payments option.

If you are interested in making a donation or would like to know more about the capital campaign opportunities, visit SaveOurStories.org or can call Tawater at Boot Hill Museum at 620-227-8188 or members@boothill.org.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com