Westside natives Dr. G. Barton Heuler and his wife, Margaret have already supported WKOM, now they are offering even more financial assistance

West Kern Oil Museum is getting a boost from two of its Benefactors.

Dr. G. Barton Heuler and his wife, Margaret, grew up on the Westside, met while attending Taft Junior College, and have a fondness for the town’s No. 1 tourist attraction.

The Heulers, who live in Anaheim Hills and have been successful growing pistachios, almonds and other crops, have donated money to help the Museum pay its bills each month and for restoring the iconic 1937 fire truck and a recently donated 1918 Model T Ford pickup.

Now they’ve thrown down the gauntlet in an effort to raise funds for an ambitious expansion project rolled out by the Museum’s board of directors.

“Dr. Heuler and his wife Margaret are offering matching donations up to a total of $25,000 for donations from anyone,” said Board President Rick Woodson. “It could be one dollar or many dollars, and they will match it – up to $25,000.”

He said donations are encouraged from individuals, service and fraternal organizations, businesses and corporations.

“We will accept contributions from anyone and everyone and the Heulers will match it.”

Museum directors have mapped out a growth plan that includes a new garage for their antique cars and trucks and service station and auto parts exhibits.

Also envisioned are a new gift shop, improved perimeter fencing and parking, a more appealing entryway, a vintage machine shop and pole barns to protect antique equipment and displays.

A 1950s era drilling rig donated by Fred and Barbara Holmes is being restored and soon will be erected on Museum grounds.

Maintenance projects and upgrades to facilities also have been undertaken.

The Museum gets its operating income primarily from memberships and an annual yard sale.

Checks in any amount for the Heuler challenge can be sent to:

West Kern Oil Museum, P.O. Box 491, Taft, CA 93268. Designate “Special Projects.”

Donations also can be dropped off at the Museum, located at the corner of Wood Street and Highway 33. Just look for the big wooden derrick.

Dr. Heuler was born on the CWOD oil camp in Fellows (his father was the town doctor), attended Midway School, Taft High and Taft JC before earning four degrees from the University of Southern California, including a doctor of dentistry.

He was a practicing dentist for a decade before turning to almond farming in Kern County.

The Heulers now have farming interests in Kern County, Southern California and Arizona that include pistachio and almond orchards, vineyards and row crops.

She was Margaret McCormick before they married 56 years ago.

Dr. Heuler also has been successful in the investment world and is working with a committee of the Museum board to develop a business plan.

The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10-4 and 1-4 on Sunday. Admission is free.