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Crest Theater HVAC system up and running
Theater group gives city check for project
crest theater
The Great Bend City Council Monday night heard an update on the efforts to renovate the Crest Theater.

Jerry Renk, Crest Theater Board member, had good news for the Great Bend City Council Monday night. He also came bearing gifts.

“The HVAC project is done,” he said of the long-running effort to replace the historic venue’s heating and cooling. “It was an arduous process.”

Then, he presented the council with a check for $130,000. This covered the portion of the project cost above what the city ponied up for the work.

“We’ve spent the year gathering funds,” Renk said. 

Last April, the council approved bids to remove the asbestos from the city-owned, 70-year-old Crest Theater and for the installation of a new HVAC system in the historic downtown venue, renovations that total nearly $600,000. This included a bid from ACM Removal Kansas LLC. of Wichita for $16,820 for asbestos removal and from Glassman Corporation of Hays for $572,700 to handle the HVAC improvements in the theater. 

However, the city had set aside $350,000 for theater renovations. 

So, last May, the Great Bend Community Theatre Board, which has an agreement to operate the facility for the city, signed a memorandum of understanding to cover the balance of the HVAC replacement cost totaling $222,700.

Where did this money come from?

The money to make up the balance came from a variety of sources, Renk said.

The city applied for and received a Heritage Trust Fund grant through the Kansas State Historical Society. The $90,000 grant, which was approved last May, provided an 80-20 match, for which the city already had the matching funds. 

Then, Renk said the GBCT was the recipient of $2,500 from the Golden Belt Community Foundation. Now, things were looking up with $92,500 in the coffer.

Next came another big break. The Max Nichols Foundation offered $50,000 up front, and would match up to another $50,000 of which the GBCT was able to take advantage of $43,700.

In addition, the theater group received: $25,000 from an anonymous Golden Belt Community Foundation donor; $1,044 from the Golden Belt Community Foundation Theater Fund; $12,500 from the Dorothy M. Morrison Foundation; and $2,150 in miscellaneous donations.

“We thank you very much,” Renk said. “We appreciate your support.”

He said the new HVAC system works well and the GBCT has already held its first production in the facility.

Up to this point, by piecing together donations and grants, the GBCT group has replaced the seats, lighting and carpeting, and remodeled the bathrooms. In addition, there is new equipment to aid the hearing impaired, a new screen and a repainted stage.

Commonwealth Theaters deeded the Crest to the city, but it sits on leased ground. The lease, which expires in 2046, calls for a $200-per-year city payment.