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Contractor secured: Fundraising efforts continue

Tyler Garrow moves debris in preparation to enclose the Vista Theater balcony on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council)

NEGAUNEE — Efforts to save the Historic Vista Theater are continuing as the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council works toward winterizing the building before Christmas.

PAAC announced on Thursday that the organization has been working with Carrier Construction and Services of Negaunee. The company will shore up the walls of the auditorium and construct enclosures to protect from the elements portions of the building that were unaffected by the roof collapse.

Equipment to secure the walls will be rented at a discounted rate from Gundlach Champion, officials said.

PAAC Advisory Board President Rusty Bowers said securing a contractor and equipment is a major step forward.

“We are so pleased that Dale Carrier has agreed to complete this work that’s so vital to, first and foremost, keeping the public safe, but also protecting the stage house, balcony and lobby from the elements this winter,” he said. “This is the best news we could have gotten.”

Dale Carrier looks up at the west wall of the auditorium of the Historic Vista Theater in Negaunee. His company, Carrier Construction and Services of Negaunee, is aiming to have the walls shored up and the stage house and lobby portions of the buildings done before Christmas. (Photo courtesy of the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council)

The Vista’s roof collapsed on the morning of Aug. 26 after a drainage failure. Heavy rainfall drenched Marquette County the previous night, stressing the roof’s drainage system and causing debris to fall inside of the building.

A GoFundMe campaign was launched in the days after, and has raised just over $57,000 over the last three months.

In addition, a returnable bottle and can drive through PAAC has raised thousands of dollars, but there are still thousands of cans left to count, as the pandemic has slowed the process.

“We are really grateful to all of the people who donated, our volunteers, Super One Foods and all of the local distributors, who are working with us to turn the cans into cash,” Bowers said. “So far, we have been able to sort and return over $5,000 worth of returnables, and we’re hoping to get at least $20,000 from the effort. But we need volunteers to sort the cans and bottles and we are committed to doing that safely.”

Several Negaunee High School classes also raised funds. The Class of 1969 raised over $2,300 in October, while the Class of 1995 donated $1,000, the Class of 1976 raised over $700 and the Class of 1994 donated $500. Several other classes also gave $100 or less.

“People have been so generous so far,” Bowers said. “We are very grateful for your belief that we could get this done.”

In another campaign effort, Bill Hager, named the Vista Theater volunteer of the year, is matching donations with his Bust Bill’s Budget fundraiser. Throughout November and this month, Hager’s Hee Haw Farm will donate $7.50 for every donation of $20 or more, up to $1,500.

PAAC officials’ goal is to raise $120,000 for winterizing efforts.

To donate online via GoFundMe, visit https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/help-us-save-the-vista-theater/peninsula-arts-appreciation-council. Donations can also be mailed to the Vista Theater at P.O. Box 189, Negaunee, MI 49866.

For more information on PAAC and the Historic Vista Theater, visit www.VistaTheater.org or find Historic Vista Theater/PAAC on Facebook.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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