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Sugar City Area Historical Society seeks to preserve area history

SUGAR CITY, Idaho (KIFI) - A local city is seeking to preserve its more than 100-year history. Sugar City has been called Sugar City since 1903 and got its name from the city's main crop of the time the Sugar Beet. Now, thanks to the efforts of a city council member, that sweet history will be preserved.

"In our code, it mentioned a historic preservation commission that we should have one and the members and the terms that they serve and how it should be organized," said Joy Ball, the city council liaison to the Sugar City Area Historical Society.

Ball says many of the members that make up the historical society are from the Sugar City area themselves, wanting to see that history preserved for later generations. She says they even have a lot of support from the city.

"So there's a strong desire to move forward with preserving our history," Ball said.

Many in the city are excited to have the society in their home town. They are donating lots of items to be preserved and displayed to the historical society. There are just a few problems.

“Sugar City does not have a museum. We have been contacted by people. People have donated items, but we have no place to display those. And the commission just really had a strong desire to move forward in getting a museum where these things could not only be preserved but displayed so people could come and learn about the history of our little town," Ball said.

Linda Johnson, one of the co-presidents of the society, shared how currently they are being extra creative in how they share that history with the people of Sugar.

"We've gone into the schools some to educate them on on the history we have all the way. So we're trying to find inventive ways to share till we can get our museum," Linda said.

Linda also added while the Sugar Beet is what gave their town its name, it would end up not growing sugar beets in the area during World War 2.

"In 1942 or 44. The factory closed down. It was then that a new crop, the russet potato, was an easier industry to work with," Linda said.

Grant Johnson, Linda's husband and co-president of the historical society, shared how the Sugar City Area Historical Society is now a non-profit, and not just a historical commission from the city.

"We had to fund that and we had to organize it, which we did. What we have done is we've kept this same mission, but we've added our vision now with our new Sugar City Area Historical Society, Inc. That's the title of our new organization, Our Vision is that we preserve our heritage by establishing a museum in Sugar City," Grant said.

Grant added how the museum may end up looking like the city's old train depot, but the society is still facing some issues in getting it built.

"We've talked to citizens that own property, we've talked to the city, and there are options that possibly we might be able to get something from the city. But as of now, we're still trying to work things out to see if there are some properties or a property," Grant said.

The other issue is the funding the Society needs to build it. To rebuild a replica train depot, they would need $500,000 to $600,000. And while they are trying to get grants to help them reach that goal, they also are hoping people from the area pitch in and help them raise funds.

This year they have a smaller goal they are trying to reach.

"We have set a goal this year we would like to raise $55,000 at least by the end of the year," Grant said.

The Johnsons and City Councilwoman Ball emphasized the city and its people are in big support of the idea.

"They want to help. And we feel their support of it. But they can't just give away a building to the museum. So first of all, we had to have this 501c3 designation in order for people to give large enough grants that we can build our own," Grant said.

Grant shared how people can donate to the museum and the Historical Society if they wish. Currently, they are in the process of setting up an account that will allow them to receive donations. Until then they say people can go to City Hall.

"Come into the city building now until we actually get that done," Grant said.

The city building he's referring to is Sugar City City Hall which can be found at 10 Center Street, in Sugar City. To donate until they get the account set up, possible donors would need to make sure it goes to the Sugar City Area Historical Commission.

You can also call City Hall at 208-356-7561.

The Historical Society will be making a special presentation to the Sugar City City Council at the city council meeting at the city hall. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.


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