Make sure you send a Christmas card to your wealthy aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, father, mother, high school buddy, or former business associate. The greater Perham community is going to need to nurture all the friendly connections it can, if a $1...
Make sure you send a Christmas card to your wealthy aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, father, mother, high school buddy, or former business associate.
The greater Perham community is going to need to nurture all the friendly connections it can, if a $1.2 million auditorium improvement project becomes a reality.
In fact, for a price, you can have your name emblazoned on the structure: The Johnson Center for the Performing Arts, the Smith Auditorium, the Lewendowski Theater, Company XYZ Hall...
"We talked about offering naming rights to large donors--as long as it's not Budweiser, Winston or something inappropriate," said Perham-Dent school's building and grounds director Fred Sailer. "1.2 million is a lot of money, but in this community, it's do-able."
The auditorium planning committee, which has been meeting since the fall, has bravely decided that the project will be completed through private donations--rather than going to the taxpayers with a referendum. Committee members and school officials just don't believe the time is right to ask the taxpayers for more money, said Sailer.
A preliminary plan calls for an expansion of the 1936-constructed Perham High School auditorium. It would include an L-shaped addition wrapped around the north and west side of the existing theater. This would include a construction shop, theater prop storage, improved shipping and receiving, a new parking lot and a substantially expanded lobby area.
"Right now, we have people standing in line for tickets during snowstorms," said Sailer, who with school Superintendent Tamara Uselman spoke at the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce "Power Hour" Dec. 11.
One of the difficult problems the auditorium planning group has explored is the future plan for a brand new high school, projected in 15 to 20 years.
Should the community invest $1.2 million in the existing auditorium, when a new high school will be built--which would include a new 1,000 seat theater at a cost of $7 million alone?
Would the community want a second auditorium? Can the community afford the upkeep and maintenance of two performing arts facilities?
The committee believes there will likely be a market for two auditorium facilities, when looking 20 years down the road.
The old auditorium would be a "quaint," more intimate venue for events, performances and meetings. The new auditorium would have capacity to host graduation ceremonies, theater and larger events.
What would happen to the old high school when it is replaced by a new facility is uncertain.
"Parts of the old school are very useable," said Superintendent Tamara Uselman, adding Perham "never has enough gym space."
Uselman added that part of the old school could be converted to multi-unit housing.
The western portion of the building would especially have longer term potential, with the auditorium, the industrial/vocational shops and the neighboring gymnastics facility.
The potential for an Alternative Learning Center in the west wing is also something to consider, said Sailer. The ALC is presently in the old brick administrative building across the street.
"We have 60 to 70 kids in and out of that small building every day," said Sailer, noting that the ALC also has students from Pelican Rapids, Frazee and New York Mills. "I see the west wing as a real future for a larger ALC...with the potential of attracting more students from other school districts."
Incorporated into the $1.2 million auditorium plan is a large parking lot, where the old basketball courts are on the west side of the building. This would serve as staff parking during the day--event parking at night.
Sailer and Uselman both encouraged any of the 50 people at the meeting to consider a donation to the proposed expansion project.