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Proposed Eddie Robinson Museum gaining momentum

August 4, 2006
By Nick Deriso TheNewsStar.com
GRAMBLING — The proposed Eddie Robinson Museum received $63,500 in funding on Thursday as the long-delayed project gained surprising momentum. "All I can say is God is good," enthused Wilbert Ellis, who heads up the project's fundraising arm. "Things are just falling into place."

Robinson led the football program at Grambling State for nearly 60 years, retiring in 1997 as the winningest coach in college history with 408 wins. He also mentored four future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees and won 17 conference titles along the way.

A bill to fund a museum that would honor those storied accomplishments was passed in 1999, but the plans hit a series of snags before its oversight board was reconstituted in 2005. A proposal to house the proposed exhibits in the former women's basketball gym on campus followed earlier this year. That led to the Louisiana Secretary of State office's Thursday pledge of $50,000 in start-up funding for the next fiscal year, money that will be used for utilities and hiring a staff member. The funds are contingent on approval by the University of Louisiana System board to use the gymnasium as the museum site. John Belton, a governor-appointed museum commission member, said the group was working with GSU school officials to present the idea for preliminary approval at the ULS' regular meeting later this month.

Secretary of State Al Ater confirmed the funding in an open letter presented at the Thursday museum commission meeting. Kyle Edmiston of the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau also presented $13,500 in funds earmarked for promoting the museum.

"This museum could have a huge impact on tourism in Lincoln Parish," Edmiston said. "We feel it could be one of the top, if not the top, site in the area." Edmiston said he had also met with members of the local legislative contingency to discuss their continued support. The CVB has already provided office materials and clerical help. "The convention and visitors' bureau has been there supporting this project from the beginning," Ellis said. "It's been a good marriage."

Belton said the Robinson family attorney was at work on a letter backing the project. The document, he said, would protect their rights through future licensing efforts, as well.

"This family is very, very happy about how everything is going," said Eddie Robinson Jr., son of the legendary former coach. "We are just excited about it."

The commission is continuing to iron out its contract with a national fundraising group. A brochure detailing these efforts is also being prepared for distribution to local supporters, chamber members and residents.

 

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The Eddie G. Robinson Museum is a landmark that officially recognizes the outstanding contributions to the state of Louisiana, the nation, the world and the game of football made by Coach Eddie G. Robinson.  - more