MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (AP) - The nonprofit Evergreen aviation museum across the highway from the Evergreen International Airlines headquarters in McMinnville will remain open despite plans for the company to shut down, museum officials say.

Photos:747 lifted onto Evergreen water park

And the museum's executive director tells the McMinnville News-Register ( that at the insistence of state investigators, the nonprofit organization is untangling ties with the for-profit air cargo business, such as shared telephone systems and copier paper contracts.

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is part of a complex that draws 150,000 visitors a year to such attractions as Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose airplane, a Titan missile and a water park.

Both the business and museum were founded by Del Smith. Legal restrictions prohibit mingling their finances, and the state Department of Justice opened an investigation last year into the relationship between the museum and the company. It has yet to release findings.

We exist thanks to the generosity of our donors, patrons and volunteers. The museums would not be here without the financial support of Mr. Delford M. Smith, spokeswoman Melissa Grace said in a statement Monday. But it does not depend upon the financial support of Evergreen International Airlines for its financial future.

Company executives notified the state Friday that it plans to lay off 131 employees and cease operations by month's end.

The human resources director addressed a memo to all employees speaking of the loss of our company and thanking them for their service. However, Smith issued a statement saying the company is exploring available strategic alternatives.

Museum Executive Director Larry Wood told the paper that the nonprofit and for-profit entities had done a lot of things where we have been on the same contract as the corporate side, because the corporate side is so much bigger that we got a really good deal by riding on its coattails.

He said the Justice Department wants the steps toward separating the two entities done by the middle of December, and I think we'll make it.

He said that operations are pretty much business as usual at the museum site, but plans for an adventure park and lodge are on hold because financing couldn't be lined up.

The News-Register also reported that the museum is appealing property tax assessments judging that only 5 percent of the water park should be tax-exempt and 95 percent of the rest of the museum complex should be exempt. The museum contends the entire complex should be 100 percent tax-exempt.

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