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Rogers council OKs improvements for Victory Theater

by Janelle Jessen | June 9, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/JASON IVESTER Rogers City Hall; stock art photographed on Monday, April 11, 2016

ROGERS -- Victory Theater is slated for an improvement project city officials believe is necessary for safety reasons.

The City Council on Tuesday approved moving forward with work on the downtown, city-owned building, which is nearly a century old. It's home to Arkansas Public Theatre, a community-based nonprofit group that provides live theater experiences, according to the organization's website.

The council, meeting in person for the first time in more than a year, approved a $225,000 contract with Mid-Continental Restoration of Fort Scott, Kan., for the project.

The bulk of the money -- $200,000 -- will come from the general fund for the project. Additional costs will be covered by carryover from the 2020 budget, according to city documents.

The restoration is necessary for the safety of the performers and the audience, the documents state. Last year, bricks began falling off both the exterior and interior of the building, likely as a result of construction nearby, according to David Hook, facilities development manager.

In 2013, the council approved repairs to the building and a lot of work was done, but the project couldn't be completed because of the proximity of SWEPCO electric lines and transformers, Hook said. The utility company has agreed to move the lines at its own cost.

Restoration will include tuck pointing, or removing and replacing deteriorated mortar between the bricks, inside and outside the building. It will also involve repainting, replacing missing windows, addressing problems on the east side of the structure and resealing the building, Hook said.

"This will take care of the majority of all the exterior issues with the building," he said.

Other companies quoted the city $350,000 to $400,000 for the brick work alone, Hook said. Mid-Continental Restoration specializes in this type of project and has done other work for the city, he said. Hight Jackson Associates will do the design work for the restoration.

Hook estimated the project will take about three weeks, but the timing will depend on when power lines can move.

Victory Theater was originally designed by Rogers architect A.O. Clarke and opened in December 1927, according to the Arkansas Public Theatre website.

In its early years, the theater served as a community gathering place and was renovated several times as a movie and vaudeville theater before closing its doors in the early 1970s, the site states. The city purchased the building in 2008 with an agreement it would serve as the long-term home of Arkansas Public Theatre.

In other business, council members approved spending $450,000 to convert to new software to help departments coordinate and share information.

Timmons Group of Richmond, Va., will provide integration and implementation services for the conversion from CityView software to Cityworks software, according to city documents. The project sets the foundation for city departments to use software for tasks such as asset management, permitting, collecting alcohol taxes, code enforcement, inspections and licensing.

Mayor Greg Hines said an advantage of the software is it creates a system that doesn't rely on someone's memory.

Cityworks software is already paid for and on site, said John McCurdy, community development director. The implementation cost will cover staff training and converting data -- currently stored everywhere from legal pads to spreadsheets all over the city -- to the new program.

The Finance Committee recommended the resolution pass.

"We were particularly pleased how well they are going to be working with the Rogers Utilities so it's a win-win for multiple entities," said council member Betsy Reithemeyer. "It's well thought out. It is expensive, but it is desperately needed."=


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