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Help wanted: Save a historic Wisconsin lighthouse

 Racine County for the first time is allocating money to the Wind Point Lighthouse to help with a host of maintenance needs, including work on the roof and gutters and rebuilding the north chimney. The county allocated $10,000 in its recently-approved 2016 budget. The Village of Wind Point, which owns the lighthouse, is reaching out to other entities as well in the hopes of offsetting hundreds of thousands worth of maintenance costs. (Gregory Shaver/The Journal Times via AP)

Racine County for the first time is allocating money to the Wind Point Lighthouse (above) to help with a host of maintenance needs, including work on the roof and gutters and rebuilding the north chimney. The county allocated $10,000 in its recently approved 2016 budget. The Village of Wind Point, which owns the lighthouse, is reaching out to other entities as well in the hopes of offsetting hundreds of thousands worth of maintenance costs. (Gregory Shaver/The Journal Times via AP)

VILLAGE OF WIND POINT, Wis. (AP) — Officials are reaching out for help to pay the bills to maintain the historic Wind Point Lighthouse in southeastern Wisconsin.

The village of Wind Point recently asked Racine County to direct some dollars to the lighthouse on Lake Michigan. The village has budgeted about $113,000 next year for lighthouse maintenance in addition to nearly $26,000 in operating expenses.

After some initial skepticism, County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said he became convinced the lighthouse brought enough value to the county that he allocated $10,000 in his 2016 budget. The Racine County Board approved the budget Tuesday, The Journal Times reported.

“I thought that a one-time, $10,000 (contribution) to help them continue that brand for Racine County was a wise investment,” Delagrave said.

Wind Point officials believe that while the village owns the lighthouse, its reach goes well beyond Wind Point and stands as a symbol of Racine County.

The village took ownership of the lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1997. Wind Point has spent just less than $700,000 on the building over the past 10 years, Village Administrator Mike Hawes said.

The costs are a heavy burden for the village, which has about 760 households, Hawes said.

“The village really enjoys having the lighthouse, obviously. It’s a beautiful, historic asset that we have,” Hawes said. The building, constructed in 1880, is one of the oldest and tallest lighthouses still operating on Lake Michigan.

“Our concern is that we have a relatively small tax base … and these expenditures keep falling on the backs of our local tax base,” Hawes added.

With the $113,000 in improvements budgeted for next year, the village plans to rebuild the north chimney and upgrade the main building’s roof and gutters. A repainting of the lighthouse, estimated to cost about $236,000, also is not far off, Hawes said.

The building draws about 25,000 visitors to its grounds each year.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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