Sunday, June 21, 2009

Boozman shows he can earmark funds for national cemetery if he chooses to

FORT SMITH : Boozman seeks coin as honor to marshals
Posted on Saturday, June 20, 2009
A proposed commemorative coin is intended to provide a $5 million windfall for the planned U.S. Marshals Service Museum in Fort Smith.

U.S. Rep. John Boozman, a Republican whose 3rd District comprises western Arkansas, last week introduced House Bill 2799 to mark the 225th anniversary of the Marshals Service. The bill would require the U.S. Treasury Department to mint up to 500,000 silver coins and 100,000 gold ones.

The coins would be issued Sept. 24, 2014, the 225th anniversary of the agency. Cost would be $35 for the gold ones and $10 for the silver.

"The U.S. Marshals Service has played a vital role in the development and growth of our nation," Boozman said in a news release. "I believe that a commemorative coin will help recognize and honor more than two centuries of heroic, brave men and women who worked to uphold the law."

The bill earmarks the first $5 million generated by the sale of the coins to go to the museum "for the preservation, maintenance and display of artifacts and documents of the United States Marshals Service."

In early 2007, the agency selected Fort Smith as the site for its national museum. Earlier this month, the museum's board of directors approved the architectural design for the 50,000-square-foot facility, to be built on the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith at an estimated cost of $50 million.

Museum supporters are seeking donations from corporations and individuals, said Russ Hodge of The Hodge Group of Dublin, Ohio. The effort to raise enough money to build the museum could take longer than seven years, Hodge said.

Museum program director Sandi Sanders said Friday she's delighted with the proposed bill and that its passage would mean a lot to the museum.

"We are very grateful to Congressman Boozman for sponsoring the bill," she said.

Marshals Service spokesman Jeff Carter said in a prepared statement Friday regarding the filing of the bill that its members "are extremely proud of their many historical contributions over the course of this nation's history and are honored to be recognized for that service."

The bill also calls for various proceeds from the coin sale to go also to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, scholarships for spouses and children of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, the Community Oriented Policing Service and the Retired United States Marshals Service Association.

According to the bill, the coins would carry the image of the Marshals Service star on the front and the agency's motto, "Justice Integrity Service," inscribed along the edge. The bill instructs that the back of the gold coins would feature a design symbolizing the sacrifice and service of marshals killed in the line of duty.

The design for the coins would be chosen by the treasury secretary in consultation with the Marshals Service director and its historian, and the Commission of Fine Arts, then reviewed by the Citizens Coin Advisory Committee and the Marshals Service 225th Anniversary Committee.

The coins would be the first issued to honor the Marshals Service since the U.S. Mint resumed issuing commemorative coins in 1982, according to the Boozman news release.

The coin wouldn't be the first to have Arkansas ties. According to its Web site, the U.S. Mint issued a commemorative coin in 2007 recognizing the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School.

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