TUSCUMBIA — It’s been a rough year for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
The facility created to honor the state’s music achievers began the year without funding from the state.
It also started 2012 with its doors shut, a move designed to reduce expenses.
The hall of fame’s continuing financial woes and uncertain future put it at No. 8 among the top 10 local stories of the year as selected by TimesDaily staff.
It wasn’t until June that the Alabama Music Hall of Fame reopened, thanks to a six-month lease from Northwest-Shoals Community College, which was proposing to purchase the building and roughly 40 acres of property.
That deal was placed on hold at the end of the lease period, leaving the hall of fame’s executive director and board of directors with tough decisions to make concerning the facility’s future.
In order to make ends meet, the board recently approved a $250,000 loan from an anonymous local donor.
The money is being lent at an annual interest rate of 4.75 percent, Executive Director Wiley Barnard said. He said the donor does not want to be identified.
Barnard said the money will be received in one lump sum and be used to pay off various debts the hall of fame has incurred since being removed from the state’s general fund budget.
Barnard said the hall of fame owes $79,000 on a bank loan, another $40,000 for a loan from another anonymous individual and $18,000 to the state for back taxes.
The remainder of the loan will be used to operate the hall of fame. It’s unclear how and when the hall of fame will repay the loan.
Barnard said the facility will maintain its regular hours — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It also will open as needed to accommodate tour groups.
While the hall of fame was closed for the first six months of 2012, Barnard began discussions with representatives of Point Clear Holdings about locating satellite music exhibits in different parts of the state. Point Clear Holdings own several hotels associated with Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses across the state, including the Marriott Shoals in Florence, where an exhibit of Muscle Shoals music has been planned.
During that time, a committee formed by the Shoals legislative delegation made several recommendations that were adopted by the board of directors.
One recommendation was to consider selling some of the hall of fame property.
In May, Northwest-Shoals Community College announced it was interested in purchasing the building that houses the hall of fame and the surrounding property.
While the legalities of the proposed purchase were being researched, the college leased the facility for six months, which allowed it to remain open and pay its bills. Just before its reopening, Sheffield Utilities cut the power on the facility for delinquent utility bills.
About the time the lease was set to expire, the college decided to place the proposed purchase on hold.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.