The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 2, 2012

Historic Pittsburg Colonial Fox Theatre gets new deadline

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Just as a new phase of renovations got under way this week at the Colonial Fox Theatre, staff working to preserve the historic downtown structure got welcome news: The National Park Service has extended a critical deadline.

The Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation had until Oct. 31 to raise $500,000 in matching funds to receive the full $500,000 awarded by the Save America’s Treasures program.

Last month, the Foundation received a $45,000 Community Development Block Grant from the City of Pittsburg, but it wasn’t enough.

“We are very close,” said Vonnie Corsini, the foundation’s executive director. “We need about $200,000 and we’re there.”

The NPS granted the organization a six-month extension in which the foundation must generate the remainder or forfeit the unmatched amount. The new deadline for the matching fund has been set for May 1, 2013.

“The National Park Service is impressed with the progress the Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation has made in restoring this regional treasure,” said Megan Brown, a grant administrator with the NPS. “The (Fox) has been a great steward of these funds and I have no doubt that they will reach their goal.”

The foundation has been allowed to utilize the funds as pledges are made, and to date that funding has been instrumental in rehabilitation projects that include the current phase of renovation, Corsini said.

It carries a price tag of $304,400.

That phase, under the direction of Home Center Construction and subcontractors Seward Electric and Southeast Kansas Heating and Air, included the east facade beautification, selected demolition, new electrical service and life-safety code improvements.

On Thursday morning, a crew worked on the demolition of walls surrounding the aging heating and air conditioning system on both sides of the stage. Glass and doors to be utilized in the renovation of the front facade have been ordered and should arrive in early December, Corsini said.

Also Thursday, Corsini drove five copies of a 165-page grant application to Topeka to submit to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, seeking funding for the next phase of the project.

The department’s Attraction Development Grant Program will fund up to 40 percent of specified projects geared toward tourism. The Colonial Fox is seeking $168,000. The awards are to be announced in January.