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Most recent update of this page: May 06, 2013

Kopitke Out of Business in Nebraska

Kyle Kopitke faced the Nebraska court system on February 14, 2007, where judicial officials gave Korean War veterans and other veterans a wonderful Valentine's present.  Kopitke was ordered to dissolve all of his "museums" in Nebraska, return all items to the original owners, and never operate another non-profit in the State of Nebraska.  Congratulations to the State of Nebraska for being the only state in the whole Kopitke mess that had enough fortitude and respect for veterans to lower the boom on the man the Nebraska Attorney General aptly called "a professional con artist."  According to an article on the All American Patriots website, Kopitke admitted that he violated the Nebraska Nonprofit Corporation Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and the Consumer Protection Act.


Introduction

Kyle Kenley Kopitke is an individual who moves from location to location in the United States, purporting to establish a "National Korean War Museum."  At each location he solicits cash, real estate, artifacts, personal property, and gifts in kind from veterans, the local government, and members of the general public. Kopitke sometimes also purports to establish a "National Vietnam War Museum,” as well as Civil War, World War I, World War II, Gulf War, Indian War, and "Calvary" museums using the same methods of solicitation.  Mixed in with each proposal for yet another war museum for his "Trail of American War and Cultural Museums" is usually a promise to establish a local library on the museum premises.

According to newspaper accounts, it is Kopitke's policy not to answer questions about the financial aspects of his museums.  He receives cash and inkind gifts from the museum's income and from grants from host communities, however his policy is to not provide information about cash inflow or cash outflow, including from where and how much money comes in to his organization or to where (or whom) and how much money is expended.

The Korean War Educator is non-supportive of Kyle Kopitke's activities (1) because he is secretive about his organization's finances, (2) because he has left a long trail of disappointed and angry contributors (particularly veterans) behind him at each new museum locality, and (3) because Kopitke doesn't appear to know thing one about historic preservation.  The KWE strongly urges the public to be wary of Kyle Kopitke's requests for money and artifacts.  Nobody knows how much money is going into Kopitke's personal pockets as compared to how much is actually being expended for the general operation of the museum in question.  Furthermore, if personal artifacts are donated via a "Deed of Gift" or some other document that legally transfers ownership over to either Kopitke or one of his so-called museums, the gift is probably not reversible, even if a donor later discovers that Kopitke's museum is not what he purported it to be.

For a hard look at the questionable activities of Kyle Kopitke, the Korean War Educator recommends the article, "Museum Developer promotes history trail," written by Joe Duggan.  The article appeared in the December 1, 2005 issue of the Lincoln [Nebraska] Journal Star with the following introduction:

"Live in a small community with a declining population and limited economic prospects?  Got a vacant school or nursing home?  Kyle Kopitke has a pitch for your town."

Further information about Kopitke’s activities is listed below, including his arrest in June of 2006.  Special thanks to KWE visitor Bob Hittner who informed the KWE of the Furnas County court decision that found Kopitke guilty of criminal trespass on August 15, 2006.  If any visitors to the Korean War Educator have other information about Kyle Kopitke and his associates, they are encouraged to contact Lynnita Brown at lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org; phone 217-253-4620.  This is especially true for anyone who donated or loaned artifacts to Kopitke's so-called museum.  Also contact: Steve Hix, Investigator, Nebraska Attorney General, 402-471-1816.

On December 01, 2006, the Nebraska Attorney General filed a civil suit against Kopitke for attempting to defraud Nebraska's veterans.  In an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star's reporter Joe Duggan, Kopitke referred to himself as the "American Moses of American history" because of his trail of military museums.  For more information on the latest developments with regards to Kopitke, see the newspaper listing of Kopitke-related stories found further down on this page.  Information about this was added to the list below thanks to a heads up from Andrew D. Callahan of Hastings, NE.

For details about the agreement reached between the State of Nebraska Attorney General and Kopitke on February 14,  2007, visit  http://www.nebraska.tv/news/local/5833666.html.  Another excellent source of information about Kopitke can be found on the website VAWatchdogDotorg.

A Shocking Look

For an inside look at Kopitke's so-called museum to "honor" Korean War veterans, go to the
Korean War Project website.  A friend of the KWP took photographs of the interior.
http://www.koreanwar.org/kopitke/national_korean_war_museum/index.htm

Table of Contents:


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Kopitke & Associates

  • Kyle Kopitke was born April 10, 1957, according to the "Our Campaigns" website.
  • Kopitke is a native of Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
  • Kopitke is married with one child.  His wife's name is Annie (Abello) Kopitke.
  • A Honolulu newspaper identified Kopitke as an Army veteran.  Another newspaper stated that he served in the Army from 1975 to 1978.  He is listed as Sp/4 Kyle K. Kopitke as 1st AD CDAAC 1977-78 on the Ferris Barracks (Erlangen, Germany) roster at www.ferrisbarracks.com/index.htm.
  • In 1992 he ran on the Democratic ticket for U.S. Senator from Utah, but failed in his bid for office.
  • In 2002 Kopitke ran for office on the Honolulu City Council in District 5, but failed in his bid for that office.  He received 15.08 percent of the votes (2,900).
  • Kopitke was age 47 and president of the Board of Trustees of his museum in 2004.
  • He is a former Peace Corps worker (mid-1980s) from Florida.
  • He is a former suicide prevention counselor.
  • In 2002 he was a youth counselor with Hale Kipa, which offers a variety of services to troubled Hawaiian youth.
  • He is a former records consultant in the history department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • In 2000, Kopitke charged $10.00 to visitors to his "National Korean War Museum" website.
  • Webmaster of Kopitke's website in 2003 was Gerald Abello in San Francisco.
  • Kopitke claimed that "Hollywood Superstar Mickey Rooney" had signed to play one of two Korean War vets who visit the National Korean War Museum as part of a movie produced by Kopitke and his associates.
  • In 2003 Kopitke began a search of eight different states asking for donated land on which to build a "National Vietnam War Museum".
  • Original museum trustees George Tracy (first president of the board of trustees), David Higley, and Annie Lisetor were still associated with the museum in 2003.  Other known associates and/or former associates of Kopitke's museum board include: Jay Kim (first chairman of the board), Casey K. Choi of Hawaii (former chairman of the board--now has nothing to do with the museum), Francis Pacheco of Hilo, Hawaii (former chairman of the board).  KWE is currently seeking the names of other board members or former board members.
  • On the Public Domain Television Shows website at http://www.topiclink.com/info/article?page=5, Kopitke left a message (January 4, 2005) on the site bulletin board stating he was making a movie about the Korean War.
  • Kopitke and his family now live in an apartment in the former Nelson High School building, 380 South Maple, P.O. Box 132, Nelson, NE 68961.  Phone 402-225-4117.  All of his living expenses are reportedly being paid by private donations and by the City of Nelson.
  • At one point in time, Kopitke was a candidate for Nelson City Council.
  • Kopitke ran for Nebraska State Representative (District 38) in the 2006 Primary Election.  His opponents were Tom Carlson and Wayne Garrison.  Nebraska's primary election was held on May 9, 2006.  Of the 10,225 votes cast for this office, Kopitke received 357 votes or three (3) percent of the vote.  In 1992, Kopitke (D-UT) ran for US Senate but lost at the nominating convention.  His total receipts for the campaign were $1,378, with disbursements of $328 and ending cash on hand of $1,050 (see "Political Moneyline" online).  He was again a candidate in 1994, but either withdrew or did not run (see Politics Directory of U.S. Senate Candidates at http://www.politics1.com/library/ussenate.doc - publisher Ron Gunzburger),  Mr. Kopitke chose not to respond to questions asked by area newspaper reporters to all political candidates in the 38th District.
  • On June 12, 2006, Kyle Kopitke was behind bars in a Fumas County, Nebraska jail, charged with criminal trespass.  Residents in Oxford noticed a strange car outside of the former "national Korean War Museum" in Oxford.  Kopitke was caught inside the building with a flashlight, attempting to remove property.  Kopitke's bond was sent at $1,000.  According to the Kearney Hub newspaper, first-degree trespassing is a Class I misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.  Kopitke pleaded not guilty.  His arraignment was continued to June 26, 2006.  On that date, Kopitke pleaded not guilty in a hearing before Fumas County Judge Cloyd Clark.  Kopitke was ordered to stand trial on August 14, 2006.  He was subsequently found guilty of criminal trespassing.  Sentencing was set for October 2, 2006.
  • Furnas County Judge Cloyd Clark sentenced Kopitke to 90 days jail (less 3 days already spent in jail at the time of his arrest), plus a $54 court cost on October 2.  Kopitke appeared in court with his court-appointed attorney, Roger Benjamin of Oxford.  Fumas County attorney Tom Patterson argued that Kopitke should be sentenced to one year in jail because he violated the trust of veterans.  Kopitke  was released from Furnas County jail on November 26 on good behavior.
  • On December 01, 2006, the Nebraska Attorney General filed a civil suit against Kyle Kopitke for allegedly defrauding Nebraska's veterans by preying on their patriotism and emotions.  See the details in the Kearney Hub News (December 04, 2006), "Bruning charges Kopitke in frauds" by Amy Schweitzer, Hub Regional Editor.  See more information under Kopitke & Associates below.  View Newspaper/Other Printed Resources for a list of articles about Kyle Kopitke.
  • Kopitke went to court on February 14, 2007, where he was ordered to dissolve all of his "museums" and return all items to their original owners.  He is forbidden to operate a non-profit ever again in Nebraska.  What a wonderful Valentine's Day present for Korean War and other veterans.  The full text of the Consent Decree can be found on the internet at http://www.ago.state.ne.us/.
  • In 2008, Kopitke resided in Flint, Michigan.
  • Kyle Kopitke was working as a HUD Community Planning and Development Specialist out of Flint, Michigan in late 2011.
  • He ran failed campaigns for various Democratic political positions over the course of several years.  According to "Our Campaigns" website they include:

    05/09/2006 NE Legislature 38 - Primary Lost 3.49% (-45.74%)
    09/21/2002 Honolulu Council 5 Lost 15.08% (-69.85%)
    11/05/1996 Lake County, FL Property Appraiser Lost 27.08% (-45.84%)
    06/13/1992 UT US Senate - D Convention Lost 1.60% (-68.06%)
    11/06/1990 Salt Lake County Assessor Lost 47.57% (-4.86%)
    09/11/1990 Salt Lake County Assessor - D Primary Lost 43.65% (-12.71%)
    03/20/1984 IL District 13-R Primary Lost 1.10% (-28.64%)
     
  • In 2013 he was in the film production business, operating "Kyle Kenley Kopitke Films, LLC" based in Flint.  On the company's website Kopitke claims that one of the highlights of his life was: "Being Museum Director of the National Korean War Museum and the Vietnam War National Museum (both of which were closed down under curious circumstances; ah; another movie and book!)"  Also according to his website, Kopitke is currently actively seeking cast and crew members for his 2013 feature films in development.  He requires potential cast and crew to find at least ten people to watch the movies they appear in because that is how he says he raises funds for other movies.  He sought several actresses for a recent film produced in Salt Lake City, Utah and Flint, Michigan in 2012.  According to his casting call: "Compensation: Zero dollars but a Screen Credit, an IMBD credit, and you say actual 'words' in the movie."  He notes that if potential cast and crew members do not find ten people to watch his movie, they are "not a good match" with his company.

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Utah

The "National Korean War Museum” was incorporated in the State of Utah in October of 1998, and registered to Kyle Kopitke, 4068 S. 4265 W., Salt Lake City, Utah in 2001. Its officers were listed as: George Tracy of Roy, Utah; Annie Lisetor of Salt Lake City, Utah; Kopitke; and David Higley of West Valley City, Utah. George Tracy was the registered agent of the not-for-profit corporation. The file number for the organization was CO214316 in the State of Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Corporations and Commercial Code.  The organization's Employer Identification Number (EIN) is 87-0624297.  It became a federally tax-exempt nonprofit organization in 1999; however, the "National Korean War Museum" is listed on Guide Star (www.guidestar.com), an informational website about the status of nonprofit organizations nationwide, as a 501-c-3 private non-operating foundation.  The definition of a private non-operating foundation and the activities that it can legally conduct can be found on the following website:

www.exempttaxlaw.com/CM/articles/articles17.asp

In January of 1999, Kopitke approached at least three cities in Utah, seeking land on which to build a "national Korean War Museum."  A news release about the project can be found on the internet at www.swanet.org.  It states:

CEDAR CITY APPROVES KOREAN WAR MUSEUM IN SOUTHERN UTAH 01/21/99

The city council has approved turning over land south of town to a group proposing to build a Korean War museum. The 110-acre donation to trustees of the National Korean War Museum, unanimously approved Wednesday night, involves land the Bureau of Land Management gave the city for public use. The group now has a year to raise half the estimated $6 million to build the facility near Interstate 15 or the donated land reverts to the city. Kyle Kopitke, spokesman for the non-profit museum organization, said his group is poised to hire a Washington D.C.- based fundraiser to solicit funds from South Korean businesses. He said the group will pay for bringing water and power to the site and for all maintenance costs. Kopitke has told the council he expects as many as 250,000 tourists will visit the site each year. Visitors would be charged a nominal fee, which would also be used to maintain the park. The Korean War Museum organization approached the council only two weeks ago with its proposal for the park. The facility would include a 63-acre parcel designated as the Valley of Sacrifice, bearing name markers for the more than 53,000 Americans who died and another 8,700 who are still missing as a result of the 1950-53 war. The complex also would include a Garden of Peace, combat memorial statue and 33 Halls of Remembrance, commemorating events from the war. One of the halls would be dedicated to the 213th National Guard Unit, headquartered in Cedar City, which served during the war. Kopitke said his group has been pressing forward quickly on the deal because it wants to have the museum open before June 2000, the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. Cedar City Council members also felt pressed to come to a quick decision on the project because there were several other Utah sites, including Panguitch, Beaver and one in Garfield County, reportedly interested in hosting the museum.

In a letter dated April 22, 1999, Korean War veteran Conrad Grimshaw of Beaver, Utah, explained what happened in his city. Grimshaw wrote:

"In January, this promoter named Kyle Kopitke approached all of the Southern Utah Cities regarding a Korean War Museum. His presentation was for 100 acres of land to lease and later own. They had adequate money to get it started, but would need additional money (about 3 million) later. Richfield and St. George turned them down. Fillmore and Beaver were then contacted and then finally Cedar City. They mentioned that a decision would be made within two months.

They met with Cedar City the day after Beaver, and then announced that Cedar would be the place. This was done before we could get the Beaver vets together to explain. Cedar as usual, jumped on the bandwagon and proceeded to inform the public that the Cedar 213th had won the "war”. But they didn’t have a gun. The museum was to be built on BLM ground that was to be used for this kind of thing. To make my story shorter, I have sent an E-net release dated March 19, 1999. This states that work would soon start with 320 volunteers erecting the small buildings, but money would now have to be raised. Cedar sent out a call for all the 213th vets to come to Cedar for the opening of the project in February. I had gone south by that time and the announcement came too late in the local paper. They marched, prayed, cried, and fired and made a promotion video for Kopitke to take around to raise 6 million dollars. I think by this time Cedar could see that they took "the bait” hook, line, and sinker and kicked him out a week later.

He then went to Fillmore and got the boot, then back to Beaver. I had to come up from my winter home in Overton, Nevada, to attend bank directors meeting and was again invited to the meeting with the Chamber of Commerce to hear his presentation (again) and see the video he made in Cedar to raise money. The Beaver Chamber of commerce was also smart and told him to make his own deal for ground and show them the money, and then maybe they could talk. It may have been a good idea, but I don’t think it will ever get off the ground."

Kopitke and his family left Utah and moved to Hawaii, "to help the tourism market."


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Hawaiian Islands

On the Big Island of Hawaii's South Kona coast, Kopitke proposed a $6 million facility near Waikaloa.  Plans were to build a 14-acre museum on part of a 3,000-acre commercial, golf, and housing project on land donated by John Baldwin to honor his father and his uncle who fought on the Korean peninsula.  A fund-raiser dinner was held on August 29, 2001, at the Ala Moana Hotel to "drum up interest in the museum."  Among the guest speakers at the fund-raiser were Harley Coon, national president of the Korean War Veterans Association, and two Medal of Honor recipients.  According to the Honolulu Star Bulletin Hawaii News, the "National Korean War Museum" had 26 trustees.  Among the 26 were Kyle Kopitke, Sharon Har, James Ward, and Casey Choi.  Kopitke said, "Rather than spend $15 million for one large museum building, we're looking at building a small South Korean village with 38 halls, each with a separate theme focusing on various elements of the Korean War."  The 38 halls were to be a reference to the 38th parallel which divides North and South Korea.

Plans to develop a national Korean War Museum on Hawaii did not materialize, but in February of 2004, Kopitke opened a "National Korean War Museum” on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. The museum was housed in a 1940s-era Quonset hut located at 235 Kellogg Street in Wahiawa. According to newspaper accounts of the official opening, the museum was "a work in progress with dangling wires, incomplete murals and yet-to-be installed attractions.”  A description of the museum appeared in the November 22, 2003 "National Korean War Museum Weekly Update."  It said:

"The National Korean War Museum is housed in The Historic Wahiawa Armament Quonset Hut.  The area of the Quonset Hut is 200 feet long and fifty feet wide, and sits on nearly 25,000 square feet.  It was built in 1943 and was used during World War II and the Korean War chapter of the Cold war as a bomb making armament center.  It is located about two miles away from Schofield Barracks."

By August of the same year, newspaper articles announced that Kopitke’s museum was struggling. "The World War II-era Quonset hut in which the museum is located is the target of a foreclosure action and is set to be auctioned by a court-appointed commissioner on August 2….  A retired sailor who refinanced his home to invest $200,000 to help bankroll the museum says he lost his house in the deal and isn’t sure if or when he’ll see his money again. Meanwhile, the museum is struggling financially, attendance has slowed to a trickle, and the company that bought the building last year is trying to have the museum operator evicted.”  By May of 2004, Associated Press articles noted that the "National Korean War Museum” in Hawaii was "running out of room” and in need of a mainland location for a "sister museum.” The AP writer said that the museum board was looking at land at 70 closed military bases.

An article in the Honolulu Advertiser told of a different problem other than "running out of room."  It told of a conflict between Kopitke and a woman named Maria Abello.

"Abello, who Kopitke says is his sister-in-law, was contracted by him to buy the property and manage a fund-raising campaign on behalf of the museum.  The plan, he said, was for the museum to eventually buy the property from Teancum, giving Abello a profit of around $200,000.  But Abello, who put $200,000 down on the museum property and says she spent $300,000 more developing the site, says Kopitke used her to acquire the property, promising to release hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money to her once the museum opened.  Then, she says, he 'fooled' her into signing a building lease at $1 a year for 99 years."


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Illinois

On December 06, 2003, Kyle Kopitke approached Lynnita Brown of the Korean War Educator via e-mail, purportedly offering her a job with his "national museum."  Brown is not an acquaintance of Kopitke, and has never met him. At the time she received his letter, Brown was in the process of publicly exposing the antics of the Harley Coon Administration of the Korean War Veterans Association.  If Brown had accepted the terms of Kopitke's offer, her objection to those antics would have been effectively silenced by Kopitke, who is a friend of Harley Coon.  Although Kopitke asked that the correspondence to Lynnita be kept confidential, Brown wrote to him explaining that she was concerned that the welfare of Korean War veterans might be compromised if she kept silent about the contents of that correspondence.  She told Kopitke that she planned to make his letters known to the public, which she did.  She published his correspondence on the KWVA Ad Hoc message board, and it now appears on the KWE.  See the exchange of letters below.


"Aloha Lynnita Jean,

How is the Goddess of the Korean War? Your hours of hard work, personal and financial sacrifices to honor the Korean War Veterans is humbling.  You have a gift from God with the written pen (or word processor).  What would it cost to hire you full time to work for our Museum?

What we have in mind is:

1. Helping to make our website the premiere website in the world for a pro American view of the war. We would have final editorial approval over content – word for word.

2. Editor of our written magazine—something like the Graybeards; one option on the table is just to do a ten page insert in each issue. I think as KWVA passes into the years, we might end up being the publisher. How many KWVA Vets will be active and alive in ten years?

3. I also envision some grant writing. The grant writing would be tied into some sort of bonus system for grants received that you author.

4. The National Museum will publish the "Official History of the Korean War”; I am writing it; I need a co-author to do 90% of the work so I can take credit for 50% of it! I would have final content say.

5. We will also produce the definitive dvd/video series on the Korean War. The best one out there now is Fire and Ice, but it is to [sic] anti-Veteran according to some Vets. They have expressed their desire to have one more positive.

We expect to open the National Korean War Museum on December 30th. We still have a long way to go, but we are getting there. I will send you our email weekly update, and add you to our list.

Regardless, if we can ever come to terms, we would like to honor you by placing a poster of you and your family in one of our Galleries. I recommend you take a color family photo to Kinkos, have it blown up on canvass special stock to a 22 x 28 size; then send it in a roll tub [sic]. We will cover the framing here on our end. I think Kinkos charges about $100-$150 for a canvass 22 by 28 inch poster. I will write the verbiage to go next to the poster; I will run it by you first.

We expect to open about 50% complete in December, and build from their [sic]; I expect that in February, we would hope to have the funds to bring you on full time; perhaps as early as January.

As you are aware, the folks at the Illinois Korean War Museum are talking about shutting down; I am proposing to their Board, that we recognize, all of their donors, at our Museum. As you are certainly aware, there have been over 30 different attempts to start a national museum over the last fifty years; all were honest efforts; all raised money; all failed. We want to honor all of those that helped by giving the various efforts that did not make it.

We do not want you necessarily to stop your KWE project; your work for us would be slanted to a heavy pro USA theme, whereas your KWE is straight as you see it. Our site will not say anything negative—people can go elsewhere for that. Critics will call us "biased”—and we will be proud of it.

It was a shame what they did to you at the Illinois Museum; that is the world of nonprofit; sad the day when the very founder that sacrificed, so much gets the ax [sic]. Understand Jeremy finally left. No comment from me about him.

Do you have any suggestions of how to approach Bob and the other Board members about acquiring their collection? About the only thing keeping their effort alive is the drive of the paid employee, but I don’t see money coming in at a level to sustain her salary for too long.

Frankly Lynnita Jean, some of our Board members have some concerns about loyalty issues; we see that whenever Lynnita Jean does something, she does it 100%--even when she goes after someone—like Harley. I think we would have to have some clear understandings about in-house laundry if you work for us.

Lynnita Jean, you are obviously a free spirit, with great passions and gifts from God. I know of no one with your intensive drive about the Korean War. You would make a great full time employee; working out of your home for us.

Would you prefer to be an "employee” or a "contract worker”? Employees have health insurance. Although we would consider purchasing it for you as a contract worker. A contract worker has much better tax breaks; you can deduct so much.

There is a small possibility that after we are open, we would help fund the Illinois effort, but the negative opinion it has now in the Veteran community makes it hard. I was born and raised in Illinois, so naturally I would love to see one there. I love Hawaii but do miss so heartily the gentle meadows of my beloved Illinois.

The other issue we would have to deal with is Vince [Krepps] and Harley [Coon]. Harley has been good to us. We cannot afford to get in between a cat fight. We respect that, as Lincoln said, "Good people do not always agree.” From the view of our Board, which is certainly strongly held by myself—organizational infighting happens to just about every organization. Disagreements happen, people get offended and so forth. Certainly with 16,000 members, there is going to be some strong personalities who feel they could do better, or that the organization should be run differently. We love and pray for everyone; we are just trying to build a Museum. We have positive relationships with folks on both sides of the fence.

Some of the nicest, most hardworking people I have known were waitresses. I respect your job, but we need your skills to build a National Museum website, write Korean War books, write grants; so do please let us know if you are available and what type of compensation you are looking for.  Our website is nkwm-hi.org.

I hope you will respect, that this email is to you, and for you alone, and that my opinions are expressed in confidence to you, and I do not wish you to share them with anyone. I have spoken frankly and with great candor; things I have said could be taken out of context or in the wrong light. I root for everyone; I pray for the mercy of The Lord Jesus Christ and wish it for everybody. Please do not forward this email to anyone—or post it anywhere. The dealings we (our board) have with the KWVA, and the Illinois Board are in a very sensitive stage.

You have a great website; your site makes us look sick. Old Zimmerman, in the old days had one of the greatest sites I ever saw. Now there was talent; wonder whatever happened to him. We are looking for a webmaster; the fellow helping out is in CA; takes 60 days to post photos (partly our error). We are grateful for his hours of sacrifice, and he is a great guy, but it is not fair to him, or us to run a site that needs to be updated weekly from long distance.

In hindsight, I think the Illinois [museum] should have put you on as paid staff, so that you could have devoted the necessary time to the organization. I am aware you spent thousands of hours volunteering; but they should have paid you. All functioning non profits have paid staff. Great to have volunteers; but you need paid staff to glue it together.

I will forward our weekly email update right behind this one.

Thank you once again of the countless hours of sacrifice and hard work towards establishing a shrine of honor for our Korean War Veteran Heroes.

God Bless,
Kyle Kopitke"


Brown responded to Kopitke’s letter on December 06, 2003, with the following e-mail letter:

"I have reviewed your letter carefully, and I must decline to be either an actual or a contractual employee of the National Korean War Museum in Hawaii. There are too many conflicts of opinion that cannot be resolved.

(1) It would not be possible for me to help make your website the premier website in the world, because that is my personal goal for the Korean War Educator Foundation's website. The KWE is already massive, and will at least double in size by the end of next year. For me to work toward the same goal for your company's website would be extremely inappropriate.

(2) I would never do 90% of the work for an "Official History of the Korean War" (or anything) so that someone else can take 50% of the credit. I already experienced that with the Korean War Museum in Illinois. Once bitten, twice shy.

(3) I have not heard that the Korean War Museum in Illinois is shutting down. They're still accepting veterans' money, still advertising, and still receiving artifacts into their collection. I would not be surprised if it folds, however. Houses built on lies tend to crumble eventually.

(4) As for loyalty issues, let me make this perfectly clear to you and your board: My first loyalty is now, and always will be, to Korean War veterans. If your "in-house laundry" would happen to also be "dirty laundry" that might in any way be harmful to Korean War veterans--and I found out about it--I most definitely would not keep silent about it. Instead, I would scream bloody murder about it--in the most vocal way possible. I make no apologies for that, or for my strong loyalty to Korean War veterans.

(5) Vincent Krepps and Harley Coon are two of the most dishonorable men I have ever met. You and your board can kiss up to them all you want to, but I will not. There is nothing "good people" about either one of them. If you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself.

As you see from all of the above, I would be entirely unsuitable as an employee of your organization. Thank you for asking, however. Best wishes to you in your endeavors. - Lynnita Jean Brown


The decision to publish the above letter did not come easy for Brown, and she notified Kyle Kopitke on December 28, 2003, that she had decided to make his letter known to the public.  Her notification letter to Kopitke follows:

Kyle, after nearly a month of personal, ethical debate with myself, I have decided to publish the e-mail message that you sent to me on December 6th. I will be publishing it on the KWVA-Ad-Hoc message board, along with the reply that I sent to you the next day. Your comments about "in-house laundry", Harley Coon, Vincent Krepps, and the Illinois museum have greatly troubled me since you sent the message. Because I am a person of high integrity, persons who send me e-mail messages in confidence have heretofore been assured that I will not break that confidence. However, I am afraid that your December 6th message stepped over the bounds of that reasonable expectation when you shared comments that have given me reason to believe that Korean War veterans ought to be concerned about the museum in Hawaii, Coon, Krepps, and the Illinois museum.

As I told you in reply, my first loyalty is to Korean War veterans. I protect them as best as I can from harm's way. The Korean War Educator has no "in-house laundry" to hide from Korean War veterans. If you are on the up and up, why should the National Korean War Museum in Hawaii have it? I also question the "dealings" you say you have with the KWVA and the Illinois board. What dealings would they be? The KWVA Graybeards magazine recently carried an advertisement from the so-called "National Korean War Museum" in Tuscola, Illinois. There was no reference to its closing whatsoever. Instead, it declared that its first permanent building will be built and open to the public sometime next year. (I'm skeptical, but that's what the advertisement said.) Furthermore, I have a feeling that, in spite of your claims that the Hawaiian museum has "dealings" with the KWVA, several KWVA national directors don't know a thing about any such "dealings" (unless they are, perhaps, strictly between you and Harley Coon or someone else on the council).

Although I have tried, I can find no member of the Hawaiian Korean War Museum with whom to discuss my concerns. (Who are they, what are their telephone numbers, what are their addresses?) I did check the Internet for some understanding of the legal ramifications for forwarding mail that the sender requested to be kept confidential. In surfing the Net for answers, I also found that you have a direct tie (and I do mean direct) to the failed Utah National Korean War Museum. Upon learning this, I contacted a Korean War veteran in Beaver, Utah, who was present during the last meeting that you attended there before you left town. He had nothing good to say about you, and he was shocked to hear that you have moved on to yet again seek funds from Korean War veterans in another state for a "national Korean War Museum." He then forwarded to me by U.S. mail a whole file full of information about your Utah efforts. I recall that the Utah National Korean War Museum had a website that charged $10.00 per person to enter the site--something that I found personally offensive.

I am so sick and tired of seeing Korean War veterans get ripped off. I might also add that the timing of your letter was highly questionable, too. At a time when Coon and Krepps have gone out of their way to damage my reputation and to try to quash my rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press, you suddenly send a patronizing letter to me, offering me a potential salaried job with your museum on the condition I remain quiet about "good people with differing opinions" and your "in-house laundry."

When one sends e-mail messages, one should have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, when one sends e-mail that contains information that hints of potential harm to another targeted individual or group of individuals, I believe that one has lost that expectation of privacy. I hope that Korean War veterans who are my friends will understand why I hesitated so long to make your message public. They often send me confidential messages, and I have wrestled for nearly a month with the fact that, by posting your "confidential" message, veterans might start to question my integrity or perhaps conclude that I will not respect their own wishes for confidentiality. However, I feel that for me to continue to sit on your e-mail message, knowing full well that potential harm could possibly await unsuspecting veterans, would be much more inappropriate conduct for someone sworn to protect veterans. Such inaction on my part would cause Korean War veterans to then really and truly have reason to distrust me. Hence - your message is about to be posted on Don Finch's KWVA Ad Hoc message board. I am not happy with myself for having taken so long to reach this decision, and I am definitely not happy with your letter.


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Michigan

In August of 2004, Kyle Kopitke announced that Wurtsmith, Michigan (Iosco County) had been chosen as the location for a "branch museum” and that the museum’s Board of Trustees had agreed to lease a 28,000-square-foot building at Wurtsmith that once was used as a headquarters by the U.S. Air Force. The lease was said to be for ten years with two five-year options. Kopitke said he planned to move some of the holdings from the "National Korean War Museum in Hawaii” to Oscoda Wurtsmith Airport. He also said that he was hoping for enough donations to pay for airfare for him and his family to fly to Oscoda from Hawaii.

According to an Arkansas newspaper, authorities in Oscoda had offered an estimated $100,000 in local incentives to encourage Kopitke to set up his museum at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Iosco County, Michigan. More details can be found in a newspaper article entitled, "National Korean, Vietnam War Museum Moving to Wurtsmith."  Jim Dunn of the Oscoda, Michigan, Oscoda Press, wrote an article saying that Kopitke’s organization had backed out of its agreement with the city of Oscoda after the airport authorities declined to subsidize the museum with further concessions to Kopitke. "He never even made a visit here,” said Thom Salter, airport manager.


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Arkansas

According to an article in the Honolulu Advertiser in August of 2004, not only was Kopitke having serious discussions with the Oscoda Wurtsmith Airport Authority, but he was also talking with authorities at the Arkansas Aeroplex, formerly Blytheville Air Force Base. A Blytheville, Arkansas newspaper noted that Kopitke had approached Aeroplex representatives in December of 2003 regarding establishing a "National Vietnam War Museum” in Blytheville.  However, Kopitke chose Wurtsmith over Blytheville because, although the Arkansas location was a more populated area, Wurtsmith offered a low-cost building lease, proper zoning, and a facility that was up to code. Kopitke said that he planned to include Vietnam War displays at the Oscoda/Blytheville sites.

On August 22, 2004, the Blytheville Courier News carried a story that stated that Kopitke’s proposal to the Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority was turned down. Kopitke added that, "if an agreement cannot be reached with the new owners of the property, he has several backup locations to which he can move the facility.” Joe Gurley, executive director of the Arkansas Aeroplex, said there were no active negotiations currently taking place with Kopitke to bring either the Korean War or Vietnam War Museum to Blytheville.


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New York

The board of trustees of the "National Korean War Museum” then eyed the former Air Force Base at Plattsburgh, New York, as the possible site of its museum once it moved out of Oahu. "They need to move this summer, and I’d very much like to accommodate them in Plattsburgh, and I think we can,” said Assemblyman Chris Ortloff, who communicated with Kopitke. "We’re exploring our options,” Kopitke said. "Plattsburgh has played a significant role in American history,” he said. "I think Plattsburgh could be an ideal match.” In an article in the Press Republican, Ortloff said a building on the Old Base near the Battle of Plattsburgh Association site might work, and there was another structure on New York Road that could be used. "We have to make some quick decisions; we really haven’t had more than a week to think about it,” Ortloff said. "I hope we can take advantage of this windfall opportunity and turn it into something positive for everybody.” But the "National Korean War Museum” did not end up in Plattsburg.


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Oklahoma

After Plattsburg, Kopitke looked to Carmen, Oklahoma, where there was a 30-year old former high school building that he considered as a site for his "national museum.” He by-passed this site, electing to move the museum to Oxford, Nebraska, instead.


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Louisiana

Alexandria, Louisiana was another one of the possible sites that Kyle Kopitke was looking at to house his museum facility.  However, at the same time that he dropped the idea of going to Plattsburg, NY and Blytheville, AR, he also chose to drop Alexandria from his selection process.  See Oscoda Press, July 21, 2004.


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Nebraska

Oxford

In Oxford, Kopitke’s museum held a "grand reopening” in April of 2005. The location for the museum was a former nursing home located at 404 W. Derby Street in Oxford, Nebraska, owned by Lantis Enterprises in Spearfish, South Dakota. The building had over 40,000 square feet of gallery display space.  According to the McCook Daily Gazette, Kopitke said he chose Oxford because the community "offered us relocation incentives such as a utility grant and flight tickets from Hawaii.”  Thanks to volunteer labor, the museum opened in Oxford in April of 2005.  Kopitke closed the museum in Oxford in September, claiming it was only "closed for the winter."  But the McCook Daily Gazette said that "at the same time, he [Kopitke] wanted Oxford to donate a former hospital building so he could expand the museum.  If the village declined, he might be forced to move the Korean War Museum."  Kopitke now owes the village of Oxford hundreds of dollars in delinquent utility bills.  "Most of the building's utilities have been shut off for months."

According to the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper, "Village officials said unpaid utility bills were piling up and Kopitke had made no payments to the nursing home's owner, who had agreed to sell the building for $100,000."  Some Korean War veterans who had donated artifacts to the museum in Oxford were able to retrieve their donations before Kopitke left town.  However, many of the veterans and members of the general public who gave money and volunteer time in order to help establish the museum in Oxford are angry.  Their generosity was a loving tribute to those who had served and died in Korea, and they feel that Kopitke violated their trust.  Some of these disappointed former museum supporters have asked for local, state, and federal authorities to investigate Kopitke's activities.

Kopitke was arrested on June 10, 2006, for trespassing in the old Walker Post Manor nursing home in Oxford.  He appeared in Furnas County court on August 14 to face charges of criminal trespass to property.  There he was found guilty of criminal trespass--a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year's imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.  He will be sentenced on October 2, 2006.  For more information, view the Hastings Tribune article "Kopitke found guilty of trespassing," written by Diana Lambson.  The article appeared in the Hastings Tribune on August 15, 2006.

Nelson

Meanwhile, Kopitke is currently [December 2005] involved with a "National Vietnam War Museum" in Nelson, a village of nearly 500 citizens, located about 100 miles east of Oxford.  His museum there is located in a former high school building.  The three-floored building is 26,000 square feet in size.  It houses 3,000 artifacts associated with the Vietnam War.  At last word, Kopitke was to appear before the Nelson city council in December of 2005 to "answer questions about management of the Vietnam War museum."

Prior to moving his Vietnam War Museum to Nelson, Kopitke conducted a site search for a host building and land.  According to the May 2005 issue of Rural News Bits, a monthly newsletter published by the Partnership for Rural Nebraska:

"The Vietnam War National Museum is conducting a site search throughout Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. If your community has a 20,000 square foot building, with a minimum of two attached acres, contact Kyle Kopitke at kkopitke@hotmail.com or 308-824-3408. The Vietnam War National Museum development is being coordinated by the National Korean War Museum at Oxford, Nebraska. The host site will need to be donated to the national museum, as well as provide an economic development package. If your community has a vacant nursing home, school building or government building, you may want to consider this tourism and economic development opportunity."

At one point Kopitke was being paid $10,000 for his services as a museum developer in Nelson.  The city gave him $30,000 in incentives to develop the museum in Nelson.  The city provided a new, two-bedroom apartment to Kopitke and his family inside the school building, and provided him with a used car.  An article in the Journal Star by Joe Duggan states:

"In Nelson, officials knew about Kopitke's past, but the City Council still voted 4-0 on May 18 to approve a one-year contract, said Judy Schott, the city clerk.  To protect the city's interests, one council member, a retired sheriff's deputy, serves on the museum's board of directors and a local accountant has oversight of financial matters."

Chuck Tuttle (ph. 402-225-4951) is the media committee chairman for the Vietnam War National Museum in Nelson, NE.  Sherone Sader volunteered hundreds of hours to that museum, including many hours as webmaster to the Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Museum website, but has since ceased working with Kopitke for a number of reasons.

Edgar

On November 30, 2005, an article in the Journal Star newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska announced that Kopitke's "National Korean War Museum" was on the move again--this time to Edgar, a village of 539 in Clay County, about 90 miles from Lincoln.  Kopitke plans to open the museum in a 125-year old former high school building that has been vacant since the late 1960s.  He got the building for $1.00 from the village of Edgar, and claims that the museum will be "a stop on his Trail of American Military Museums."

Dave Warren of the Clay County News in Nebraska wrote an article about Kopitke that was published on March 30, 2006.  "Korean War Museum founder answers questions and defends museum's move" can be found at the following url: http://www.claycountynewsonline.com/index.php?article=20051228145748.

Trumbull

The KWE was notified on December 14, 2005, that Kyle Kopitke was making inquiries into the possibility of establishing an "American Revolutionary War Museum" in an old school building in the village of Trumbull, Nebraska, located adjacent to Hastings.

Chester

In the Titan Tablet (the Superintendent's Notes of Dan Jantzen, Thayer Central Community Schools, Hebron, Nebraska), there is a reference to another Kopitke museum in the "Unofficial Board of Education Minutes and Minutes of Hearings" (September 12, 2005) for Thayer County.  Kopitke presented a proposal for the Chester school building and property, to be used for a military museum.  No action was taken at that meeting but since that time the school board advertised with a Salina, Kansas e-services advertising company and have had offers up to $100,000--but not from Kopitke.  According to Superintendent Jantzen, the school board is currently anticipating an April 15 closing.  Chester, population approximately 300, is located in Thayer County on the Nebraska-Kansas state line where Highways #81 and #8 intersect.  Kopitke's Chester School Proposal is posted below the Newspaper/Other Printed Resources segment of this page.


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Other Cities

According to Joe Duggan of the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper [December 1, 2005], Kyle Kopitke is negotiating with officials in four other towns to establish "a trail of small-town military museums across the state that would be popular with traveling veterans and history buffs."  However, Kopitke "declined to identify" the towns.


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Newspaper/Other Printed Resources:

Utah

  • C-Span.org, "Political Moneyline" (see Filers - Kopitke, Kyle Keneley).
     
  • Salt Lake Tribune, "Alleged con artist resurfaces," by Matthew D. LaPlante, December 12, 2006

Hawaii

Illinois

  • The News-Gazette Online, October 7, 2000, "Korean War museum is in works for Utah” by Paul Wood
     
  • The News-Gazette, Monday, February 23, 2004, Champaign, Illinois, "Korean War museums open in Hawaii, Illinois” by Associated Press writer Matt Sedensky

Michigan

  • Everything Michigan, www.mlive.com, July 20, 2004, "National Korean, Vietnam war museum moving to Wurtsmith” by Eric English
     
  • Oscoda Press, July 21, 2004, "New Korean War Museum to open this fall at Wurtsmith,” by Melissa Miller
     
  • Oscoda Press, August 5, 2004, "Korean War Museum backing out of Oscoda,” by Jim Dunn
     
  • TimesLeader.com, August 10, 2004, "Money problems endanger planned museum at former Iosco County Air Force Base” by Associated Press

Arkansas

  • Blytheville Courier News, August 19, 2004, "War museum still looking for home” by Pat Ivey
     
  • Blytheville Courier News, May 14, 2004, "Board nixes drag strip plans,” [report on meeting of the Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority Board] by Pat Ivey
     
  • KATV Channel 7, www.katv.com/news/stories/0504/149073.html, May 25, 2004, "Arkansas Site on List for Second Korean War Museum”

New York

Nebraska

  • McCook Daily Gazette, April 8, 2005, "’A pivotal victory’—Oxford attracts museum dedicated to view U.S. won Korean War,” by Connie Jo Discoe
     
  • The Washington Times, September 25, 2005, "Nebraska museum declares U.S. victorious in Vietnam" by Jennifer Harper
     
  • JournalStar.com, Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, November 30, 2005, "Korean War museum moves to Edgar, curator says," by Joe Duggan
     
  • Lincoln Journal Star,  December 1, 2005, "Museum Developer promotes history trail," by Joe Duggan
     
  • Lincoln Journal Star, December 06, 2006, "Judge Considers Restraining Order Against Museum Curator" by Clarence Mabin
     
  • Clay County News, December 28, 2006, "Korean War Museum founder answers questions and defends museum's move," by Dave Warren. See:
    http://www.claycountynewsonline.com/index.php?article=20051228145748.
     
  • Titan Tablet, October 2005, Superintendent's Notes, "Unofficial Board of Education Minutes and Minutes of Hearings," http://www.tccs.esu6.org/titantablet.htm.
     
  • Rural News Bits, May 2005, a monthly newsletter published by the Partnership for Rural Nebraska.  See "Tidbits" at http://www.ianr.unl.edu/cari/bits/bits_may05.htm.
     
  • Kearney Hub, June 13, 2006, "Police Arrest Former Curator" by Amy Schweitzer, Hub Regional Editor
     
  • Omaha World-Herald, June 13, 2006, "Museum Founder in Legal Trouble" by Paul Hammel
     
  • Peace Corps Online http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/467/2034299.html.
     
  • Hastings Tribune, "Kopitke found guilty of trespassing," by Diana Lambson, August 15, 2006.
     
  • McClatchy-Tribune Business News delivered by Newstex to PJM News http://news.pajamasmedia.com, "Museum Booster Gets Time in Jail," by Paul Hammel, October 03, 2006.
     
  • Lincoln Journal Star, "Bruning files suit against war museum developer," by Catharine Huddle, December 02, 2006.
     
  • North Platte Bulletin, "Attorney General says Nebraska man defrauding veterans," 12/02/06
     
  • Kearney Hub, www.kearneyhub.com, "Bruning charges Kopitke in frauds," by Amy Schweitzer, Hub Regional Editor.
     
  • Associated Press, "Former Curator Charged with Defrauding Veterans," Sunday, December 03, 2006.
     
  • Lincoln Journal Star, "Former curator charged with defrauding veterans," by Clarence Mabin, December 03, 2006.
     
  • Lincoln Journal Star, "Museum curator defiant in face of fraud accusations," by Joe Duggan, December 05, 2006.
     
  • Superior Express, "Museum curator facing civil charges," www.superiorne.com.
     
  • Clay County News, "State Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Edgar War Museum Director," by Darren Ivy, December 07, 2006.
     
  • Nebraska.TV, "Museum 'Con Artist' Put Out of Business," February 14, 2007,  http://www.nebraska.tv/news/local/5833666.html.
     
  • All American Patriots website, "Nebraska Attorney General Bruning Puts An End To War Museum Operations; Artifacts Returned to Veterans," February 15, 2007, http://www.allamericanpatriots.com/m-news+article+storyid-19661.html.
     
  • Nebraska State Attorney General, Consent Decree, http://www.ago.state.ne.us/.

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Feasibility Study for the Chester School

The following "Feasibility Study for the Chester School Sale of Property, and Renovation" was submitted by Kyle Kopitke to Thayer [Nebraska] Central Community School District officials in September of 2005.  The study was then forwarded on to the KWE by Superintendent Dan Jantzen.  Kopitke's proposal is reprinted verbatim below.  Please note that all errors in grammar, capitalization, placement and length of paragraphs, and punctuation (including in the title) are errors of Kyle Kopitke, not the Korean War Educator.

Concept:

Brought before the School Board, is this Feasibility Study that considers the very life and future of the beloved old (and Historic) Chester School.

The main purpose of this document is to determine if now is the appropriate time to sell the Historic Chester School.

Secondary purposes include if it should be turned into a War Museum.

Also included in this document is a realistic plan on the renovation aspects covering the interior and exterior of the building, and a marketing plan for the War Museum.  The current condition of the building, with areas of concern, are also detailed.

Proposal:

Kyle Kopitke requests the School Board sell to him the Historic Chester School for the purposes of turning the building into a war museum.

Mr. Kopitke is creating The Trail of American War and Cultural Museums [underlined] across Nebraska in old, vacant school buildings and hospitals/nursing homes.  Oxford, Nebraska is now the home of the National Korean War Museum which successfully opened on April 12th 2005.  The Village of Oxford was selected over 25 applicants.

Nelson, Nebraska (which was selected over 20 applicants), is the new home of the Vietnam War National Museum, which opens on September 24th, 2005 at noon.

Mr. Kopitke has just purchased the old Edgar School Building; their museum will open on Memorial Day weekend 2006.

The Trail of American War and Cultural Museums will cover the various major Wars in American History.  These include the Gulf War, the American Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, the Civil War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Calvary [sic] and Indian War.

Mr. Kopitke proposes a War Museum to be established that would cover one of the major Wars in American History in the Historic Chester School Building.  Mr. Kopitke has not yet determined which War would be portrayed in the Historic Chester School Building, but has narrowed it down to either World War II, or Civil War, World War I, or possibly a Calvary [sic] and Indian War National Museum, or some other war museum.  Mr. Kopitke would like to canvass the community before making such a determination.  Mr. Kopitke reserves the right to make the final determination.

Background

The Historic Chester School was built a very long time ago.  Regardless of the exact year that it was built, it is clearly a very old, and thus historic, building.

when compared to other old high schools in Nebraska, the Chester School it has to be ranked as one of the most beautiful, and majestic.  It is a Nebraska, and American Treasure.

Faced with the challenges of outward migration and population loss; the school has just been closed.

A major cost factor in the restoration analysis would be bringing it up to code for ADA compliance.  To fully renovate the building, towards ADA compliance, under past proposals, would be an extensive and expensive task.

There is some talk about just tearing it down.  The City has declined accepting it because of the annual operational and maintenance costs.

The question is what can be done with it.

Turning it into a series of apartments, as some have suggested, would require more money for the renovation than it would cost to build it up from scratch.  A museum is a natural fit.

On the one hand, it is a beautiful building that is beloved by the former students who went there; on the other hand, it will continue to fall apart.  It is now to some, a growing eyesore.  Some are saying, "either use it or tear it down."

There are calls by some to leave it be, or to sell it to a developer, and again, there are other calls to have it torn down.  Facing the School Board, the community and the City Council are these various options.  In speaking with the residents of the City, they want it to be turned into some productive use.  I will be briefing the City Council on Wednesday; I have had positive initial discussions with them, but they have basically said that it is up to the School Board to determine what happens to the building.

It is always a very emotional and hard decision for a community to tear down their school building; sometimes there is no choice.  Abandoned buildings either are used or eventually deteriorate to a point where they become a physical danger to the community and to the population.

Current Condition of the Building

Overall the building seems to be in reasonable shape.  There are ADA issues that will have to be addressed in time.

The building appears from reports, to meet requirements for a museum.

Asbestos: Reports of Asbestos will have to be addressed.  Much has been appropriately contained through wrapping prior to the building be shut down.  Asbestos therefore, appears not to be an issue in the planning of a restoration effort.

Renovation Plan

The Renovation Plan, would turn, the empty beloved old historic Chester School into a theme based War Museum.

Electric: The War Museum would utilize natural light to light the interior Galleries.  This natural light would come from the extensive window coverage throughout the building.  Therefore, rewiring and upgrading the entire electrical system that covers the entire building would not be needed overall.

One office would seemingly need to be rewired in order to run a computer and telephone.  Although, a cell phone and a wireless computer are possible alternative avenues for consideration.  The War Museum would be open during the daylight hours, and would not be operated in the evening, so that there would not be a need for evening lights.  Some electrical power may be needed to run a security system.

Plumbing: This will have to be reviewed for ADA compliance.  Drinking fountains would not be available in the War Museum Building initially.

Heating: The War Museum would be open from shortly before Memorial Day, and close shortly after Labor Day; many museums in Nebraska follow this short [sic] of schedule.  This sort of schedule does not require heating the building.  The War Museum would apply for a grant to add some sort of heating system into the building.

The biggest ADA issue concerns barriers to the handicap in going from one floor to another.  Grants would be applied for, to create a chair lift, or series of chair lifts.

War Museum Design and Usage Plan

The War Museum Design and Usage Plan calls for the interior of the beloved and historic Chester School to be divided into several theme based Galleries, each covering a different part of that particular war.

For example, a theme based World War II Museum would have Galleries depicting various subjects and themes about the war.  These would range over many subjects; below is a listing of some of the proposed Gallery themes.

Medal of Honor Recipients
The Role of the United States Army
The Role of the United States Coast Guard
The Role of the United States Merchant Marines
The Role of the United States Marine Corps
The Role of the United States Navy
Weapons of War
The Day in the Life of a World War II Soldier
Hollywood and the War
Life Back in the States during the War
Major Battles
The Role of Women
Stories of the Purple Heart
Medical Care during the War
Letters from the Soldiers to the Families Back Home
Unit Histories
Life as a POW
The Leaders--both Political and Military
Medals and Ribbons
A Map Room
Major Battle Campaigns
An Overview of the War
The Role of the Allies
The Role of the Artillery
Famous Veterans of World War II
The Role of Faith in God among the Soldiers
Cultural Diversity among the Troops
Outcomes from the War
The Role of Air Power

Individual units will have space for their particular stories to be told; such as the 1st Infantry Division, and other such units.

Given the amount of floor space within the interior of the Chester School, probably around 100 Galleries, each having a different theme would be featured.

One Gallery would be devoted to those who served from Nebraska.  Galleries typically contain a proper mix of various items; they may include but are not limited to some of the following items:

Paintings
Poems
Stories
Photos
Newspaper stories (and photos)
Uniforms
Drawings
Models
Replicas
Original period pieces
Statues (both large and small)
Wood Carvings
Pottery
Plates and spoons (Commemorative)
Toys and Games about the War
Display Cases
Battle and Campaign Ribbons and Medals

There are ample items available through auctions, EBay, and other such places.  Many relatives have items that they would love to display in honor of their loved one who served.

There are ample historical paintings, books, and photos to give initial coverage to each theme based Gallery.  A portion of the sale from the Admission ticket will go to grow the collection.  In time, the War Museum will become the largest displayed collection of World War II items in the nation.

The War Museum will contain scores of black and white period photos from the War.  These will range from 8 x 10, to large posters.  Colorful paintings will give a feeling of color to the War Museum.

The War Museum will commission original paintings to be accomplished to create a more pronounced reputation in the museum world.  The War Museum will open with a core collection, and will continue to expand step by step each month.  Intense coverage will be accomplished by the third year.

Retaining the Spirit of the Chester School

Regardless of which war is portrayed in the War Museum, a section of the beloved school will be dedicated to tell and preserve the history of the school and her students.

It is realized that the War Museum will always be "the old school" to those who went there, and to their descendents.  In the section that preserves the history of the school, will be a special section where the trophies will be displayed, along with sports photos, and other Student Life photos, which will also include Class graduation photos.

Retaining the Spirit and history of the School does help the War Museum in soliciting support from members of the Alumni Association.  Bricks or Name Ties would be sold to help raise funds for certain restoration projects.  Various Graduation Classes would be challenged to sponsor a specific project.

Community Growth

One aspect of positive renewal for the Chester community is developing a Library for books, magazines, and DVDs/Videos that would occupy one room on the first floor.  This would also provide a telephone and small office for the museum.

This would be staffed by the Library personnel (and museum personnel), and would thus lower the annual operating costs.  This room would be heated, and the staff person could serve admission tickets.

A bathroom on site may need to be developed for this to be realized.

The Library would be an open and grow facility like the museum.

Restoration Schedule

Milestones:

September of 2005: Public Hearings and presentation before the School Board and City Council.

October of, 2005: School Board votes.  Transfer of Deed.

November of 2005: Announcement of which War will be represented at the Historic Chester School.

December, 2005: Opening of Chester Library.

October, 2005 through May 2006: Renovation and Museum/Gallery Development.

May, 2006: Dedication Ceremony and Opening.  The goal for the Memorial Day Weekend Dedication Ceremony is one floor looking strong.

Year 2: Chair lifts or Elevator.  Signs up on the Interstate.  One more floor completed.

Year 3: Vehicles on the outside, and the third floor is opened.

Dedication Ceremony Schedule

The Dedication Ceremony for the War Museum will be Memorial Day Weekend of 2006.

For the Dedication Ceremony, we will have 4,000 items up in the War Museum, ranging from photos, to paintings, to flags to stores, and other such items as before hand mentioned.  Each of the Galleries will have some items up.  The War Museum will probably be only 10% to 15% complete, but will look reasonable, and those who walk through will say, "You have a nice start here, and I will look forward to coming back to see the progress."

The goal is to open and grow; I repeat that; the goal is to open and to grow.  It is much easier to obtain donations of memorabilia, and especially grants, if you are already open, and people can see your progress.

May His Blessings and Love attend us.

In correspondence sent to the KWE by Superintendent Dan Jantzen on April 05, 2006, Jantzen stated the following:  "Mr. K. presented a 15 page “Feasibility Study” to the Board. One sentence makes a request that the school board sell him the school building, but an amount of money offered or asked never come up in the presentation. One of our board members went to Nelson for the grand opening of their “museum.”  Finally, the board was not impressed enough to pursue the matter any further after the presentation."

 

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