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Ground breaking for the Topaz Museum set for Aug. 4, 2012

 A ground breaking ceremony will kick-off the construction of the Topaz Museum on Aug. 4, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. on Main Street in Delta, Utah where the new museum will be built. Besides the ceremony, there will be tours of the Topaz site and a preview of an interactive website created by CyArk. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Delta City Park.

 Honored guests will be Mayor Gayle Bunker and Willie Ito, who taught himself how to draw cartoons while he was in Topaz. He later worked for Disney, Warner Brothers, and Hanna Barbera Studios.

 Mayor Gayle Bunker became a champion for building the Topaz Museum years ago when he was on the city council and Assistant US Attorney General Bill Lann Lee visited the Topaz site. Since then the mayor has been a tireless supporter of the Topaz Museum Board’s plans to build a Museum.

 Willie Ito worked in the cartoon industry beginning in 1954 when he was 19 years old and was hired by Disney Studio for the famous spaghetti kiss scene of “Lady and the Tramp.”  He has also worked for other studios, and then went back to Disney until he retired.

 When Ito was five-years old he saw “Snow White” and knew from the moment the seven dwarfs started singing “Hi ho, Hi ho” that he wanted to do animation.

 Part of the day’s activities will be a presentation by CyArk, a non profit organization that digitally preserves cultural heritage sites by laser scanning and 3-D models on line. The final product will be a website that will teach people the history of Topaz.

 The ground breaking ceremony will be followed by tours of the Topaz site, demonstrations by Willie Ito, lunch and the CyArt preview in celebration of the Topaz Museum that will be constructed soon.

 The Topaz Museum Board received a $714,000 grant from the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program, to build the Topaz Museum and Education Center in Delta, Utah.  In 2012, the NPS awarded 17 grants totaling $2.8 million.  With these funds, JACS grants are awarded to private nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, state, local and tribal governments, and other public entities to preserve and interpret US confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.

 For more information about the Topaz Museum project e-mail

 For more information on the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program, please contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, Japanese Confinement Sites Grant Program, NPS, at 303-969-2885.