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Community Hall Progress Discussed at Village of Potter Trustees Meeting

On Monday night, the Village of Potter Trustees met for the monthly meeting, with Acting Secretary Melissa Gorsuch, Chairman Hal Enevoldsen, Vice-Chairman Dale Enevoldsen and Secretary Vern Nelson in attendance.

After approving the minutes from their previous meeting, the group went over the organization of the board for 2023-24. It was decided that all of the current officers would retain their positions without change through the next year.

Next came the main discussion of the meeting, the progress of the Community Hall Renovation Project. The building was constructed in 1917 as a theater, civic center for the Potter community. Hal Enevoldsen noted the progress had been very good, considering the challenges the project had faced since its approval. The COVID-19 pandemic altered the course of the project due to lack of workers and materials, and has also contributed to increases in budgetary amounts and changes in the order that some renovations are made.

The group discussed the hiring of a new architect for the project. There has been some dissatisfaction with the current architect due to his inability to be at the site due to travel constraints. Hal Enevoldsen has had discussions with Brian Schmidt of Semple Brown Design out of Denver, Co., which was the lead firm for the renovation of the Midwest Theater renovation in Scottsbluff. Although the board has been disappointed with the current architect, they also recognized the potential difficulties in switching architectural firms in the middle of a renovation project. However, the board members agreed that they needed a firm that could be more focused on the project and be able to visit the site more often. Enevoldsen noted that he would be meeting with an additional structural engineer on Friday who would provide another opinion on the project and could recommend a local structural engineer or perhaps take over part of the project.

At this point, the roof renovation, electrical work and updated modern windows have been installed. With funding parameters that need to be met to receive additional amounts through private and government grants, the project has currently paid out $356,260. This includes land costs, demolition costs, electrical upgrades and installation, installation of new ceiling trusses, roof repair and new windows and installation. $276,739 still needs to be spent, and the project is set to receive a $150,000 grant from the State of Nebraska and $50,000 grant from the Peter Kiewit Foundation, a private philanthropic trust that invests in organizations and communities that desire to improve the conditions and livelihoods of Nebraskans.

The immediate goal of the renovation project is to get the Hall usable and rentable as soon as possible, and the group has been progressing nicely towards that end. There was discussion of the annex building, which would hold restrooms and a warming kitchen for use during events. Member Vern Nelson stressed the importance of the restrooms being more than adequate for the Hall capacity size and that they are ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant. The annex project is considered a separate from the Hall renovations, but is critical to the completion of the Hall renovations. There was some discussion about upgrading the kitchen to a fully-functioning service kitchen, but costs and other issues like maintenance challenges had the board decide that the kitchen will be a "warming kitchen" only, where simple dishes can be prepared but mostly focused on warming food for service by catering companies that service events. The board will still ask for input on their designs by an architect to ensure the project will fulfill the requirements of the overall renovation.

The board is still looking for additional funding from private entities in the amount of around $76,000 in the interim between their drawdown of the next set of funding. There was also an issue with the flooring in the Hall, as the contractor's work resulted in about a two-inch mismatch on the floor setting. Payment to the contractor is being withheld until the floor is corrected.

Progress on the Hall renovation, after some initial difficulties mostly due to COVID-19 and the discovery of some additional work that needed to be done when renovations started, has been progressing very well, according to the board members. For example, during removal of the damaged ceiling, fractured trusses were discovered in the main hall. This unexpected development required the trusses to be replaced, which increased costs and required the community to raise additional funds. The community responded, and as of this date, the lot adjacent to the hall has been purchased for the annex, the exterior of the building tuckpointed, trusses repaired, demolition finished in the main hall, plans completed and reviewed by the fire marshal, new windows and doors installed and the roof replaced.  The project is moving forward, and Enevoldsen estimates a completion date for the entire project of March of 2025. The Hall could be usable in a limited capacity with some restrictions at an earlier date, but an estimated time for that type of use is not yet determined.


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