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Fairburys Bonham Theatre Puts Re-Opening Puzzle Together, Fairbury NebraskaFairbury's Bonham Theatre Puts Re-Opening Puzzle Together

June 2016 - Nearly four years ago the citizens of Fairbury were given a 50,000-piece puzzle to solve in trying to reopen the historic Bonham Theatre in the downtown area. Making things fit took a lot of time and effort through fundraising, planning and logistics, but slowly and surely the picture became more recognizable. Fast-forward to today, and many of those pieces have come together sufficiently so that the theatre’s organizational group, Bonham Theatre Project, is ready to launch its renovation. The groundbreaking/renovation set for Monday, June 27 will kick off construction and remodeling in July.

Members of the BTP Board of Directors, local officials and citizens are invited to attend the event outside the Bonham, which is set for 12:30 p.m. Popcorn, hot dogs, candy and drinks will be provided for the first 100 participants. Funding for this promotional event was provided by Thrivent Financial. Free will donations will be accepted during the groundbreaking to help offset future project costs.

The Bonham Theatre Project is so excited to invite the public to come and celebrate with us the start of the construction phase of the project. We have been waiting a long time for this day!” President Brooke Schwab said.

Working on the Bonham puzzle began in August 2012 after the theatre closed its doors. Over 50 local residents met several times in the course of a few weeks to brainstorm ideas. Initially, it was believed that re-opening the Bonham would only require fundraising to make the conversion to digital projection from conventional film, but people soon discovered a number of significant changes were needed to meet fire, life safety and handicap accessibility codes before the theatre could open for business.

From these first meetings, Bonham Theatre Project organized as a non-profit corporation and purchased the building in January 2013. Nine board members and many citizens kept working to fit the puzzle together. Fundraising was continuous with soup suppers, a golf tournament, hosting Frost Frolic Holiday Market, alumni mailings, raffles, garage sales, an auction and other numerous events.

“Since its inception, BTP has raised over $465,000 from donations, small grants, and fundraising activities.  Funds have been used to purchase the building and pay professional fees and monthly operating expenses.  The remaining cash plus two major grants from Nebraska Department of Economic Development ($210,000) and Peter Kiewit Foundation ($100,000) will be used for renovation expenses,” said Treasurer Debby Ebke.

In December 2015, BTP hired Randy Fisbeck, a Fairbury alum, as project manager and more pieces lined up for the renovation.

Last week another piece of the puzzle was put into place.  Vernon Pfaff with First National Bank Fairbury offered his continued support of BTP via a loan commitment.  This loan will be available, if needed, to bridge the gap of monies needed to pay contractors and other expenses during construction until the grant monies are received.

The puzzle still has some missing pieces, but the picture is indeed clearer and people will definitely recognize the image when the Bonham opens again in fall 2016.

 
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