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Presidential Answers Rancher's Plea to Keep the Lights on at Mount Rushmore


"This might start a whole new system of government funding."

The combined efforts of a Maryland banker and a South Dakota rancher are keeping the floodlights on at Mount Rushmore while the government is shut down.

Bruce Cleveland, principal stockholder of Presidential Savings Bank of Bethesda, Maryland, has agreed to pay the monument's electric bill for as long as funding is frozen. Cleveland responded to recent news reports that Art Oakes, a South Dakota rancher, had paid out of his own pocket to keep Mount Rushmore's lights on during Christmas.

After learning that the government planned to turn off Mount Rushmore's lights during the shutdown, Oakes stated that he did not want to see one of the country's most familiar symbols "taken hostage", so he paid one week's bill and invited others to pitch in.

"There are probably many federal services that private parties could provide at modest cost", Cleveland said. "In our case, we simply didn't want to see the lights go out on our logo". Presidential Savings has used the four stone faces of Mount Rushmore as its corporate logo since the bank was founded in 1985.

Cleveland sent a check today to Mount Rushmore National Memorial superintendent Dan Wenk. The cost to cover the electricity for January was just $600, and Cleveland promises to make monthly payments until the government is ready to take over again. "This is a modest amount to maintain such an important symbol," says Cleveland . "I think that many in the private sector would be willing to support government services that are important to them. If Washington doesn't solve its problems soon, this might start a whole new system of government funding."

Presidential Savings invites those with other ideas for private sector support of government services to contact Presidential by e-mail on the Internet at http://www.presidential.com. If sufficient interest develops, Presidential is willing to act as a clearinghouse for others who want to help maintain important services.