Aviary supporters flocked to rescue

The support group raised $114,000 that it will present to the city on July 16.

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WALLA WALLA - Friends of the Pioneer Park Aviary say they hit the mark and are ready to turn over $114,000 to fully fund the facility through 2012.

The questions that remains are will the city see the donation as a reason to financially support the facility through the next biennial budget, and will the city now move ahead with a number of improvements to the aviary, some of which are already funded?

"Part of our objective in the beginning was to show people that the population around the Valley wants that. And it is worth spending that money as a capital improvement because it is a treasure," Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary spokesperson Craig Keister said.

In the fall of 2010, while developing a financially strapped 2011/12 biennial budget, city officials cut funding to the aviary but agreed to continue operating it if volunteers could raise the next two years of funding.

City officials also put a hold on spending dedicated bequeathals and insurance claims until it was determined if the donations would come in, Keister said.

On July 16, Keister will present an oversized check to the city for $114,000, of which almost half came from donations of $20 or less.

"I want the city to understand how vital the aviary is to the community. And I think the number of donations we had that are $20 and under are an indication of how important that aviary is to a lot of people," Keister said.

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