GREENVILLE — Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA) and Darke County Endowment for the Arts (DCEA) invited the public to tour the newly renovated Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall Saturday evening before a reception to thank those who helped make the renovation possible. The evening culminated with the opening concert of DCCA’s Artist Series for the season, starring Lisa Biales.
The current renovation was funded through a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
Darryl Mehaffie, a DCCA board member who would later in the evening receive a Patron of the Arts award, introduced special guests Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, Sen. Bill Beagle and Rep. Jim Buchy, who were instrumental in helping at the state level to get funding for the renovation.
Buchy acknowledged that the “real impetus started with Darryl.”
The retiring House Republican said that he had a “special sentimental reason” for wanting to support the renovation effort when he heard of it — he attended third grade in that very building while a new school was being built.
“Henry St. Clair had a vision,” Buchy said. “He knew that years and years forward, the arts would prevail.”
Beagle, who hails from Tipp City, said Greenville shares a trait with his own hometown — “dedication to preservation.”
Beagle praised the fact that a majority of the work was done by local contractors, so the state funding had a “multiplier effect” of not only renovating the local building but, in doing so, putting money into local paychecks, which would then be spent at local businesses.
Faber explained that a part of the capital budget each year goes to community projects, but he’d noticed that, even though the population of Ohio split almost 50/50 between urban or suburban residents and rural residents, about 85 percent of the community project funds were going to urban and suburban areas, such as Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
He said he has worked to change that, with the community improvement funding now being split about 65/35.
“This is one of those projects that I’m pretty proud of,” Faber said. “These are things that will add to quality of life in this community.”
“This also pays tribute to our forefathers,” he added. “Their foresight made the groundwork.”
Since the Greenville School District owns the building, it was required to oversee the renovation, Marilyn Delk, DCEA board chairwoman, explained. Special thanks was given to Superintendent Doug Fries and Treasurer Carla Surber for their hard work during the project, which they willingly undertook despite the fact that the schools were in the middle of their own major construction projects.
Special acknowledgment was given also to Matt Jordan, who served as project manager, from the intial planning and evaluation stages through to completion of the work.
Vendors and suppliers for the 2015 renovation were Brumbaugh Construction – front doors, auditorium doors and brass railing; Bud’s Electric – lighting installation; G&G Floor Fashions – carpeting and flooring tile; Irvin Seating Co. – seats; McCabe Painting Service – interior painting; Nealeigh Plastering – plastering; Rose Brand – stage curtains; and Vincent Lighting Equipment – stage lighting equipment.
The renovations were debuted in style with the performance of Lisa Biales, who had previously performed in DCCA’s Coffee House series and was brought by popular demand to the Memorial Hall stage.
Biales has a style reminscent of Patsy Cline, with a blues edge, and she treated the audience to her rendition of Cline’s “Crazy” during Saturday’s show.
Reach the writer at 937-569-4354 or on Twitter @RachelLloydGDA.