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U.S. Marshals coins unveiled in Washington, Fort Smith

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

Joint events in Fort Smith and Washington, D.C., Wednesday (July 23) unveiled the design of a U.S. Marshals commemorative coin to be minted later this year.

The official unveiling of the coin was held at the U.S. Department of Justice office in Washington with U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in attendance, as well as U.S. Rep. Steve Womack and President Jim Dunn of the U.S. Marshals Museum, which will be built along the banks of the Arkansas River in Fort Smith.

Also in attendance were U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia Hylton and U.S. Mint Deputy Director Richard Peterson.

Unveiled Wednesday was a $5 gold coin that features the U.S. Marshals Service's badge that is now in use, as well as the words "225 Years of Sacrifice." The other side of the coin features an eagle with a shield on its chest that reads "U.S. Marshal." The coin is meant to memorialize fallen U.S. Marshals.

A $1 silver coin was also unveiled that honors the agency's "frontier history," according to the U.S. Mint. The coin features a "historic badge and deputy U.S. Marshals on horseback. The reverse features a frontier U.S. Marshal holding a wanted poster that reads “Wanted in Fort Smith.” A half-dollar coin will also be minted, featuring missions from the agency's 225-year history.

"The obverse features a present-day female deputy U.S. Marshal and an old west U.S. Marshal in the background.  The reverse depicts Lady Justice holding scales in one hand and a U.S. Marshal's badge in the other.  Other elements symbolize U.S. Marshals' involvement during the Nation's changing times, including public school integration," the U.S. Mint said on its website.

"We are extremely proud that two of our own inspectors, Scott Sanders and Oscar Blythe, conceived this idea several years ago, working diligently with the help of several organizations to mark this special occasion," said Hylton, the first female director of the U.S. Marshals Service. "The artists' work depicts our rich history which is reflected in these designs. The coins represent the work of all the men and women behind the badge who have served our country throughout the decades, risking their lives to secure our judicial process and protect our communities and children from violent offenders."

POSSIBLE MUSEUM FUNDING SUPPORT
The U.S. Marshals Museum is counting on the commemorative coin to assist in its fundraising efforts. Dunn said in mid-August 2013 that the museum effort needs between $10 million and $15 million more to reach the “threshold” of between $30 million and $35 million needed to break ground on Sept. 24 — the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service — and begin construction. Dunn is also banking on new market tax credits for partial funding of the museum, which he said should bring in nearly $10 million.

He has said an additional $4 million to $5 million could come from sales of a U.S. Marshals Service commemorative coin, with a U.S. Marshals Service press release Monday (July 21) said was scheduled to be minted by Sept. 24.

Money from the coin that go to the museum are restricted to fund “the preservation, maintenance, and display of artifacts and documents” at the Marshals Museum. Revenue from coin sales will also go to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Law Enforcement Museum, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Dunn has said previously that about 98% of all coin sales happen through marketing and efforts of the U.S. Mint. Generating the most revenue from coin sales will require the Marshals Museum aggressively pursuing the remaining 2%. He said in August 2013 that meetings with U.S. Mint officials had been positive. The U.S. Mint will accept orders for the coins beginning in early 2015, its website said.

TROUBLED COIN SALE HISTORY
The hopes for potentially millions of dollars in proceeds from the coins may prove to be difficult, website Coin Week reported in January. According to the website, a commemorative coin for the Girl Scouts of America failed to produce any proceeds for the organization after lackluster sales.

"The reason is that sales of the coins, which only reached about a third of the congressionally-authorized maximum mintage, or 123,814 out of 350,000 (as of January 5 unaudited data), were insufficient to cover program costs. By the law organizations cannot receive funds from the sales of commemoratives unless all costs associated with the coin program are first covered. In this case, that meant forfeiting $1.23 million dollars as each proof and uncirculated coin comes with a $10 surcharge. This was the first time that has happened."

The article's author, Louis Golino, noted that the Girl Scouts employed marketing efforts to ensure sales of its coins much as other groups — including the Marshals Museum — have done.

"As Anna Maria Chavez, the CEO of the GSUSA explained in her interview with me, her organization worked to promote the coin through its web site and other venues such as local Girl Scout council partners, who sold the coins in Girl Scout shops. And yet that was not enough."

CONGRESSIONAL PRAISE
While other organizations may have had struggles with sales, Womack said demand for the Marshals coin was high.

"I’m delighted by the designs for the U.S. Marshals Service commemorative coins.  These coins highlight the Marshals’ long history of justice, integrity, and service, and their sale will be driven by high demand and help fund the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith – a world class museum and permanent tribute to one of America’s greatest law enforcement institutions.”

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Boozman noted how the coins were a tribute to the work done by Marshals across the nation and in Fort Smith during the service's long history.

“These great designs highlight the dedication and commitment of the men and women who serve in the U.S. Marshals Service as well as Fort Smith’s role in the history of this law enforcement agency," he said. "These coins are a great tribute to those who sacrifice their lives for law and order. I’m proud to have played a role in accomplishing this commemoration and celebrating Fort Smith’s storied history with the Marshals Service."

Pryor spoke of the work done by the Arkansas congressional delegation to get the bill authorizing the commemorative coins through Congress.

"Our state is deeply rooted in the heritage of the U.S. Marshals Service. It was an honor to join Jim Dunn, Senator Boozman, and Congressman Womack at the unveiling of the U.S. Marshals Museum 225th anniversary commemorative coins," Pryor said. "I was proud to work with the Fort Smith community and the Arkansas delegation to pass this bill and help honor the U.S. Marshals Service. I can’t wait to purchase the coins and visit the U.S. Marshals Museum when it opens in Fort Smith.”

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