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RiverQuarium seeks funding

Photo by Ricki Barker

Photo by Ricki Barker

ALBANY, Ga. -- The head of the Flint RiverQuarium asked county leaders to consider his nonprofit attraction's impact on the community both in terms of an educational resource and an improvement to the local quality of life before they agree to eliminate funding later this month.

RiverQuarium Executive Director Scott Loehr touted the RiverQuarium's improving financial independence and sustainability Monday, pointing out that the attraction has managed to trim more than $690,000 of operating expenses from its budget since 2004, while pulling in more than $10.5 million in private funding and grants.

"In summary, the Flint RiverQuarium has contributed to a better quality of life for the people of Dougherty County ... It has become the face of Albany," Loehr said.

Loehr is trying to coax the Dougherty County Commission into providing at least some level of funding for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Last week, the Dougherty County Finance Committee accepted County Administrator Richard Crowdis' recommendation to eliminate funding for the RiverQuarium in the county's FY 2011 budget.

Despite the recommendation, the full Commission has the ultimate say in whether any funding is included in the budget.

Loehr cautioned the Commission Monday that should funding be eliminated entirely for the RiverQuarium, the quasi-entertainment attraction and educational facility's ability to get grant funding or private donations would be hampered.

"We won't be the organization we are now," Loehr said. "We will become largely a hand-to-mouth organization and will look much less appealing when applying for grants and other opportunities."