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Chatfield celebrates progress on Potter restoration

CHATFIELD — Slow but steady progress on renovation of Chatfield's historic Potter Auditorium was to be celebrated with a reception Thursday night for donors, legislators and volunteers.

"It's still got a long way to go," said Josh Thompson, a member of the Chatfield City Council as well the city's Heritage Preservation Commission. "But there's been a lot of dedication on the community's part."

Nearly $250,000 in grant funds have been spent in recent years on capital improvements at the auditorium, now known officially as the Chatfield Center for the Arts. Another $355,000 has been spent on operations and improvements, according to a report prepared for Thursday's event.

In the exchange, the facility injected an estimated $387,000 into the local economy in 2011, for a total economic impact of $2.7 million that year alone.

Meanwhile, the community is preserving a cultural landmark.


"It's definitely a valuable piece of Chatfield history," Thompson said. "It's a resource not only for Chatfield, but for the surrounding area."

However, renovating the auditorium, built in the 1930s, ultimately will need an additional infusion of cash, likely from the state, and that's where efforts so far have not been successful.

"We've been working with the Legislature to try to get our project into the bonding bill," Thompson said. "It has been included a couple of times, but it keeps getting taken out."

Rather, it has been local efforts coupled with grants from foundations and government programs that have made the current renovations possible. "A lot of donations and volunteers have gotten us to where we are today," Thompson said.

Major grants have included $50,000 from the Chosen Valley Community Foundation, $40,000 from the Small Cities Development Program, $32,500 from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation, and $22,500 from the Arlin C. Falck Foundation. The City of Chatfield and Chosen Valley Public Schools have also made major contributions to the project.

The auditorium continues to host school and community theatrical productions, as well as concerts by artists as diverse as country stars Juice Newton and Collin Raye, and pianist Lorie Line.

In 2011, ticket sales for events totaled $11,000. About 10,000 people attended Potter Auditorium events in 2011, and another 3,360 attended events in the adjacent Legion Room.

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