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Hours at Illinois historic sites could be cut

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Budget cuts will force the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to consider cutting hours at some state historic sites after the Labor Day holiday weekend, agency director Amy Martin says.

"We wanted to make it through the Labor Day holiday to accommodate people who have travel plans," Martin told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register on Wednesday. "We're looking at trying to target it so that it's not all 26 sites."

The agency is working on specifics and will try to maintain hours as much as they can at popular sites, like those involving Abraham Lincoln, Martin said. The agency's budget for historic site operations was cut by $1.1 million for the fiscal year that started July 1 - 19 percent less than the previous fiscal year.

Agency figures show that more than 1.3 million people visited eight state historic sites in the Springfield and Petersburg area last year.

The new hours also will take into account school field trips in the fall.

"We have so many school groups coming in, and we don't want to affect those," Martin said. "Teachers plan those so far in advance as well."

Spokesman Chris Wills said the agency is talking with legislative leaders about restoring the money to its budget early next year.

State Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, told the newspaper's editorial board last month that restoring historic site funding should be a priority.

___

Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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