Plans to repair auditorium, stage get a start at Elks meeting

Sean C. Morgan

An informal committee last week started gathering information and working on ways to raise money to repair the Sweet Home High School stage.

Band teacher Pat Johnson met with the group on Feb. 11 at the Sweet Home Elks Lodge to help get the project rolling. He thanked representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Elks Lodge, the Oregon Jamboree and the Kiwanis Club for initiating the project.

“I just really appreciate a group of people willing to sit down and talk about these things,” Johnson said, adding that he knows Principal Keith Winslow and choir teacher Matthew Clark are appreciative as well.

“This just doesn’t happen with a music program,” Johnson said.

The SHHS stage and auditorium need a variety of repairs and upgrades. Among them are refinishing the stage surface, replacing the rear curtains, replacing broken seating, painting, lighting improvements and a sound system.

Winslow, who was unable to attend the initial meeting, said that the stage’s substructure remains in good shape, but the surface needs to be refinished. The substructure is solid all the way through, but he plans to have it checked again to make sure.

A contractor estimated the refinishing at about $3,800 on Feb. 12.

The project would remove most of the gouges in the surface of the stage, Johnson said, although some could not be completely removed.

“Keith said he looked into it years ago, and the cost of curtains was quite staggering,” said Shirley Austin, the member of the Elks Lodge who suggested the project after discovering the poor condition of the stage while working on the Sportsman’s Holiday Chips ’N’ Splinters event in July.

District officials have considered and approved the pursuit of grant funding, Johnson said, but everyone is already “committed to 100 different things.” No one really has had time to follow through on grants.

“I can’t do it by myself,” Johnson said. “I just can’t.”

“That’s what this committee is for, said Elks Loyal Knight and Past Exalted Ruler Ron Sharrah.

The community uses the stage, and it’s great for the community to step up and help out with it.

“You watch how the community came and built the baseball diamonds last year,” said Erin Regrutto, Oregon Jamboree festival director. “There’s no reason they can’t do this as well.”

“We’re not the only ones that use it,” Winslow said. “The community uses it. If we get that auditorium back into shape, then it will be a source of pride, and people maybe will use it more.”

The committee was scheduled to meet at the auditorium on Tuesday to tour the facility.