Thursday, May 26, 2011

From Steve Tyson-concerned citizen

Bob and Carol Mattocks have put over $1 million of their own money into the Tryon Palace in the last few years. The letter  below was written by Bob Mattocks and was sent to the County County Board of Commission today. To the many that believe the Tryon Palace is a irreplaceable part of New Bern and Craven County, I say if we go down lets go down fighting! Call the folks listed below and let them know the facts.

You may have heard by now that the North Carolina Senate Budget will both seriously compromise Tryon Palace’s operation beginning July 1, 2011 – as well as its very survival in 2012. In all, Tryon Palace’s appropriation will be cut over $1.5 million effective July 1, 2011 and nearly $3.7 million effective July 1, 2012.

Immediate action is needed if we are going have any chance of saving the Tryon Palace that we know and love.* This budget is expected to come up for a vote in the state senate as early as next week.

The budget cuts mean that for the new fiscal year beginnings a month from now, Tryon Palace will shut down most of the majority of its services to the public and close most of the recently opened North Carolina History Center. And, with the proposed 88.8% cut, all of Tryon Palace will close on or before July 1, 2012.

Tryon Palace does not have a source of funding to make up for these draconian cuts. We cannot raise ticket prices enough to recover 88.8% of our budget. Reducing public programs and services and closing exhibition buildings means our admission receipts and private contributions will decline at an alarming and unprecedented rate with the steep decrease in visitor attendance. Any suggestion that we can sustain higher ticket prices is tantamount to suggesting the dismantling of Tryon Palace – and it will mean the end of an investment in North Carolina that the administration of ten governors and hundreds of state legislators of both parties have supported and promoted since 1959.

This is a sad moment in the history of Tryon Palace and North Carolina. For more than 50 years, Tryon Palace has operated as a very successful public-private partnership between the citizens of North Carolina and their government. We are an important state asset in every meaning of the word. We are caretakers of 15 historic buildings and a collection of over approximately 7,000 priceless objects that belong to each and every North Carolinian. Private donors have contributed more than $136.5 million in private funds and earned income over 60 years. We are stewards of North Carolina values and the heritage they represent.

To the citizens of North Carolina, Tryon Palace represents the heart of our state’s cultural patrimony and the financial commitment made by their government to its preservation. To the 30,000 school children that pass through our doors each year, Tryon Palace is a beacon of engaging and stimulating history education – of a kind that is alarmingly missing from American classrooms today. To the more than 140,000 tourists and visitors from around the country and around the world who this year will come to learn about and explore our sites, we are ambassadors for North Carolina and for its greater role in our country’s legacy. To the many small business owners – the shopkeepers, hotel and restaurant owners in our greater community of Eastern North Carolina – the visitation generated by Tryon Palace represents a key part of a $41 million economic engine that enables them to remain in business and keep employing our fellow North Carolinians.

The proposed cuts to Tryon Palace are not targeting spending that is wasteful or expendable; they are unraveling the very fabric of North Carolina’s cultural and historic identity – and we will be paying both a moral and fiscal price for it. When we are forced to close the North Carolina History Center this June, we will not only be abandoning the cutting-edge exhibits and technology that are helping make the state of North Carolina a leader in 21st-century history education outside the classroom, we will be squandering an important investment of $42.7 million in state funds and a promise made to the citizens of our state to preserve their heritage and tell the stories of the deeds and courage of past North Carolinians. When we are forced to shut down Tryon Palace in 2012, we will be abandoning the challenge of passing on to a new generation our state’s history and, along with it, an understanding of the patriotic values that history represents. It is ironic and sad that our legislators seem to be turning against what they so adamantly profess to protect. There are indeed promises to keep and not all of them can be – or should be – measured by dollar signs.

You will find attached a short news release. Please watch your email for detailed talking points coming soon for your use in getting the word out.

*The Senate will vote on the budget next week so there is not much time left for response. I urge you to speak out against these cuts to our state’s heritage and our children’s patrimony. The State budget is on a fast track and it is imperative to contact your local senator and representatives and key House and Senate leadership as soon as possible to voice your position on this far-reaching budget reduction.

Key senators include:

Sen. Phil Berger (Guilford, Rockingham), President Pro Tempore, (919) 733-5708

Sen. Peter Brunstetter (Forsyth), Appropriations Co-Chair, (919) 733-7850

Sen. Neal Hunt (Wake), Appropriations Co-Chair, (919) 733-5850

Sen. Richard Stevens (Wake), Appropriations Co-Chair, (919) 733-5653

Sen. Tom Apodaca (Buncombe, Henderson, Polk), Appropriations Vice Chair, (919) 733-5745

Sen. Linda Garrou (Forsyth), Appropriations Vice Chair, (919) 733-5620

Sen. Don East (Alleghany, Stokes, Surry, Yadkin), NER Appropriations Co-Chair, (919 733-5743

Sen. David Rouzer (Johnston, Wayne), NER Appropriations Co-Chair, (919) 733-5748

Sen. Harry Brown (Jones, Onslow), Majority Leader, (919) 715-3034

Sen. Jean Preston (Craven), Caucus Liaison, (919) 733-5706

Key House members include:

Rep. Thom Tillis (Mecklenberg), Speaker, (919) 733-3451

Rep. Paul Stam (Wake), Majority Leader, (919) 733-2962

Rep. Dale Folwell (Forsyth), Speaker Pro Tempore, (919) 733-5787

Rep. Harold Brubaker (Randolph), Appropriations Chair, (919) 715-4946

Rep. Linda Johnson (Cabarrus), Appropriations Co-Chair, (919) 733-5861

Rep. Jeff Barnhart (Cabarrus), Appropriations Co-Chair, (919) 715-2009

Rep. Normal W. Sanderson (Craven), Craven County Local Representative, (919) 733-5853

Rep. William Wainwright (Craven), Deputy Minority Leader, (919) 733-5995

Every morning when the Palace gates swing open, the voices of generations of great leaders who built this state are heard again. Please, don’t let them be silenced.


Bob Mattocks


The Tryon Palace Commission
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