Friday, October 3, 2003

Newport's submarine gets OK in defense bill

Backers must still raise up to $25M to get it

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEWPORT - President Bush is helping Newport get its sub.

Bush has signed the Defense Appropriations bill. Buried in its provisions is one guaranteeing that the decommissioned USS Narwhal is reserved for donation to the National Submarine Science Discovery Center, a Northern Kentucky group working to bring the sub to the riverfront as part of a tourist and education attraction.

"This is a landmark day in Tristate history," said Tom Schram, center executive director. "Assuming we submit an acceptable application to the Navy, the Narwhal will be the first time in history that a former Navy nuclear submarine is donated, and it's coming to our region."

The application process will take about a year to complete, Schram said. The Discovery Center will be along the river and near Newport on the Levee. It is scheduled to open on Memorial Day 2007.

But backers must still raise as much as $25 million to build the center and bring the sub to Newport.

"We are tracking right on course," said Covington Schools Superintendent Jack Moreland, chairman of the Discovery Center's board of directors.

"The submarine donation is the critical component of this project, and we now have our sights set on success," Moreland said. "The next step is to get our fund-raising organization up and running so that we can take advantage of this historic opportunity for our region."

According to backers, the Discovery Center will draw 200,000 visitors annually and have an annual economic impact of $20 million or more. Thirty people will work at the center.

Two Northern Kentucky members of Congress - Sen. Jim Bunning, a Southgate Republican, and Boone County Democratic Rep. Ken Lucas - worked to secure the sub for Northern Kentucky.

Bunning was successful inserting the donation of the sub into the bill that Bush signed this week.


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