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OTHO, Iowa (AP) — Officials at the 11,000-square-foot Webster County Museum are weighing whether to try and quickly repair a leaky roof, move the artifacts to another building or disband the collection altogether.

Phyllis Stewart, the museum's volunteer curator, said the former Otho Elementary School building holds all of Webster County's history. Stewart added the museum can't open this spring because of the water and mold issues, and the artifacts — including military items — are now covered in plastic, The Messenger reported.

Stewart said selling off portions of the collection is a possibility but that she's very hesitant to choose that route.

Permanent closure is her worst nightmare, Stewart added.

"We hope people are interested enough to save the history of Webster County," Stewart said. "When it's gone, it's gone."

Stewart asserted that the museum is in need of public help that includes financial support, expertise in museum supervision, infrastructure care and anyone else with useful skills.

In the past, the museum has attracted plenty of guests, Stewart noted.

"We've had visitors from coast to coast, border to border and from other countries," she said.

Stewart said that she will host a come-and-go event on April 18 to meet with the public, pursue volunteers and address any of the community's questions. Feedback and ideas to preserve the collections are welcome, she added.

"We really don't want to close the museum without some public input," Stewart said.

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Information from: The Messenger, http://www.messengernews.net

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