Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Congress is speeding to pass legislation that would authorize funds to help in the restoration of California missions

-- California's historic missions that led the way to the state's settlement two centuries ago are badly deteriorating, and Congress is moving at an extraordinary pace to help save them.

Legislation that would pump $10 million over five years into a larger rescue effort, launched by the nonprofit California Missions Foundation, was introduced Oct. 24. It was sponsored by 46 of the state's 56 House members.

Because of the measure's broad bipartisan support and a cause that is the epitome of historic preservation, the delegation hopes to enact the bill during the lame-duck congressional session that begins Nov. 12.

Richard Ameil, who created the foundation in 1998 because there had been no concerted effort in nearly a century to refurbish the 21 adobe missions, said the assistance can't come too soon.

"Many of the missions are in danger of collapsing," he said.



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