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W.Va. theater needs renovations

August 14, 2000

W.Va. theater needs renovations



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Apollo Civic Theatre on East Martin Street needs work.

"The roof is leaking ...," said John Reisenweber, a member of the theater's board of directors. "There are sometimes puddles on the stage after heavy, heavy rainstorms."

Bess Daniels, another director, said a structural engineer has advised the theater to replace the roof within three to six months.

After sorting through bids, the theater determined the project would cost $77,000, Daniels said.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History has agreed to give the Apollo $38,500, or half the cost, if the theater can raise the other half.

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On Thursday, Reisenweber and Daniels asked the Berkeley County Commissioners if they would provide $19,250, one-fourth of the cost. They went to the Martinsburg City Council last month with the same request. Both governments are considering the proposals.

Daniels said the new roof is one of several needs.

The theater is hoping to embark on a $5 million capital campaign so it can make a number of repairs and improvements, according to Daniels.

That effort can't begin, however, until the theater hires an executive director. Daniels said the theater has advertised the position, but hasn't found someone with the appropriate qualifications yet.

Some of the work would be done to put the theater in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. An elevator and bathroom stalls would be added.

Daniels said the theater recently replaced its furnace at a cost of $12,000. The electrical system is being upgraded, too, at a cost of $20,000. Allegheny Power is helping cover the cost of that work, Daniels said.

Daniels and Reisenweber said they have appealed to the county and the city because the theater offers plays and programs that the community enjoys. Also, outside groups rent the theater for special occasions.

"One of the biggest benefits is it offers cultural opportunities for our children," said Reisenweber, who noted that he took part in a summer theater workshop there 17 years ago.

More than 1,200 youngsters have taken part in the workshop over the years, Daniels said. Of those, 200 have received scholarships from the theater.

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