In need of money

SAN BENITO — The city is preparing for “phase two” of the project to showcase the city’s history.

A year after groundbreaking, the exterior of the $1.7 million San Benito Cultural Heritage Center is nearly completed.

Next, the city plans to prepare the building’s interior to house the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Benito History Museum.

But, that means money is needed.

At City Hall, Luis Contreras, the city’s museum coordinator, is seeking grants and contacting foundations to help fund the project that includes construction of the exhibits’ partitions and display areas.

Meanwhile, members of the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Benito History Museum have sought sponsorships to fund the Cultural Heritage Center’s interior for more than a year, said Rey Avila, founder of the Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum.

Avila said the museum groups agreed to raise money to fund the building’s interior as the city finalized plans for the museum’s construction about two years ago.

“Everyone has to find their own money,” Avila said last week.

Since October 2016, the museums have raised about $20,000.

Meanwhile, Houston-based Southwest Museum Services estimated the project would cost about $600,000.

But Avila said he believes the consultant’s estimate is too high.

“These guys want Mercedes and Cadillac,” Avila said. “We’ve got to settle for Chevrolet and Ford.”

About four months ago, the museums asked Stripes, Harlingen Medical Center, Valley Baptist Medical Center, L&F Distributors, Boggus Ford and others for sponsorships.

So far, the museums have not received responses, Avila said, adding answers would be expected early in the calendar year.

The city plans to help fund the project, Contreras stated.

“The museum groups were encouraged to contribute to construction of the cases and furnishings for their respective exhibits that they will own in the new museum,” Contreras stated.

“I know that they have had some successful fundraisers to date. The city has the resources to contribute to that portion of the museum, as needed.”

It is also unclear whether the museum will include the Freddy Fender Museum.

The city has not disclosed the date on which the new museum will open.

What’s Phase 2?

Develop the museum’s interior

Construct the exhibits’ partitions and display areas