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The Cole County Commission has joined the Jefferson City Council in supporting state legislation that would authorize Jefferson City to be the new home for a steamboat museum.

County commissioners signed a letter of support at their regular meeting Wednesday.

The Arabia Steamboat Museum's lease in Kansas City will expire in November 2026, so the museum administrators are looking for a new site.

State Sen. Mike Bernskoetter and state Rep. Dave Griffith, both Republicans from Jefferson City, introduced bills in the Senate and House to increase the casino admission fee from $2 to $3, with that extra money to be placed in a Steamboat Legacy Fund. The fund would generate $39 million a year, Bernskoetter has said, and would help with the construction, maintenance and operation of the facility.

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Supporters of the bills said the ideal site for a museum would be on the hill east of the old Missouri State Penitentiary, near the Department of Natural Resources headquarters building.

David Hawley, who started the Arabia Steamboat Museum, previously said he hopes the proposed new museum would eventually showcase more salvaged steamboats that sank in the Missouri River.

Also Wednesday, commissioners approved $95,995 to purchase new ventilators for the Cole County Emergency Medical Service. EMS officials told commissioners that two of the older units had recently malfunctioned so they wanted to replace all the current units at one time. The money will come from funds in the EMS budget designated for capital purchases.

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