BLACKFOOT—The Idaho Potato Museum received a check for $6,000 from Union Pacific Public Affairs Director Dan Harbeke on Friday. The funds that came through a Union Pacific Foundation grant will be used to repair the deteriorating stonework around the base of the old building - originally built as a train depot in 1913. Museum executive director Tish Dahmen specifically applied for the grant in hopes of funding the masonry repairs.
Harbeke said that the grant money which comes from Union Pacific's operating profits, totaled $190,000 this year and was awarded to 33 non-profit organizations in the state, six of them from East Idaho. One of the stipulations of receiving the grant money is that it must go to a "railroad-served town."
Harbeke said that while the average grant awarded is $2,500, he is happy to give the museum $6,000 so for the much-needed masonry project, saying, "This way, we are able to fully fund this project to carry on the great legacy of this historical building."
"This is fabulous that you helped us out," said museum board member Pam Eckhart. "This is such an important landmark in our town."
Longtime businessman and mason Gary Fackrell will take on the project of repairing the stone foundation. He will manufacture new stones from concrete, replacing the original pumice-based stones that were shipped in from Rexburg when the building was built.
"Years of weather and wear have really taken the toll on these stones," Fackrell said. "Some of the stones higher up on the building need to be replaced too."
Fackrell has already started on the project and estimates it will take about three months to complete.