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City to raise money for gold museum
Dahlonega resident sparks movement to keep facility open 7 days a week
The Dahlonega Gold Museum offers tours of the facility to learn about the history of the first gold rush in the state of Georgia.

The Dahlonega community is banding together to keep one of its most popular tourist attractions open seven days a week.

State funding cuts have caused the Dahlonega Gold Museum to close on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Dahlonega resident Bill Hardman couldn’t stand to see the museum close its doors and came up with an idea to raise money for the facility.

"This week a bunch of school kids came in and it was closed," Hardman said. "It’s awful."

For $2, people can guess how many visitors will tour the Southern Living Idea House at the Achasta residential golf community between its June 6 opening date and Oct. 18.

The Dahlonega home is one of two Southern Living Idea Houses this year; the other is in Texas.

Contest entries are available through merchants on the square in Dahlonega, the chamber of commerce and others.

Hardman said 100 percent of the funds will go toward keeping the Dahlonega Gold Museum open every day.

Those who pay to guess will not only donate to the cause but also be in the running for prizes. The closest guesses to the actual number of visitors to the Southern Living Idea House at Achasta will win.

"We came up with some great prizes," Hardman said, including at $2,000 set of Southern Living house plans, a two-night stay at The Smith House or Lily Creek Lodge and passes to attractions such as Stone Mountain and Six Flags Over Georgia.

"We hope to raise between $10,000 and 15,000," Hardman said.

Amy Booker, interim president of the Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce, said support for the gold museum has been overwhelming.

"The community has rallied together," Booker said.

The museum is important to keep open all week because it is one of the city’s main attractions, Booker said.

"We’ve had a lot of visitors that have come that have been disappointed," Booker said. "It’s just very crucial for our summer and it’s also the focal point of our town."

Booker said when the chamber learned the state funding cuts would close the gold museum twice a week, she asked for volunteers in her weekly e-mail to members.

"We called a community meeting, and the mayor made an announcement of the status of where things were, and it was definitely going to take a volunteer effort to keep it open those seven days a week," Booker said.

Dahlonega also is establishing a chapter of the Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites to support the effort.

Booker said she hopes the museum will be able to open on Mondays and Tuesdays with volunteers within a few weeks.

"They’re signed up, ready to go," she said.