Plans to purchase and reopen the Webster Theater are underway. Those plans were discussed Thursday night in a public meeting at Kendall Young Library.
Several representatives from the Help, Entertain and Restore Organization, HERO, were on hand to discuss the short and long term goals the group said will be necessary to ensure the long-term health of the Webster Theater. Jeff Pingel, of the HERO planning committee, and Deb Brown, Webster City Chamber of Commerce Director, presented on Thursday with fellow committee member Jake Pulis, of P&P Electric in the audience.
Pingel said HERO has worked with Wells Fargo to get the cost of the building down to $45,000. If half of that cost, $22,500 is raised, Wells Fargo will match those funds and the building will belong to the organization. HERO is also applying for nonprofit status, with free service from the Jordan and Mahoney Law Firm. With an application fee of $850, and another charge of $500 at a reduced rate to Henckl and Associates, it will cost HERO $1,300 to become a nonprofit.
Jeff Pingel and Deb Brown discuss their plans to purchase and reopen the Webster Theater Thursday at Kendall Young Library. Fourteen community members gathered to hear what HERO has planned for the project.
To complete phase one of their plans, Pingel said HERO needs to raise $23,800 before Jan. 31 to purchase the Theater. At the end of January, the 60-day agreement between HERO and Wells Fargo expires. Brown said she is confident that they will meet their fundraising goal.
"We're all in," Brown said. "Failure is not an option."
There are a couple ways that HERO is looking to raise that money. For those who make a $300 donation, the organization will put an engraved aluminum ticket on the donors seat. Brown likened the fundraising promotion to purchasing a park bench. While donors won't be entitled to their purchased seat or receive free tickets, Brown said it will be a lasting memory of a donation to get the Webster Theater reopened.
"We believe this should be a community driven process," Brown said. "We need to have the entire community with us in support of reopening the theater."
While HERO has not yet attained nonprofit status, donors will be able to make tax-deductible donations to the theater project through a partnership with the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation. Checks are payable to Enhance Hamilton County Foundation with "HERO fund" placed in the memo section. Checks can be given to Brown at the Chamber office in Webster City.
Phase two of the plan will aim to raise $80,000 to upgrade to digital projection equipment, upgrade the building to keep it in good condition and purchase insurance, according to Pingel, who said phase two will only occur when they purchase the building. He said fundraising for that phase will include an online fundraising campaign on the Indiegogo website which will offer rewards based on how much community members donate.
For more information and updates, visit HERO's Facebook page at facebook.com/savethewebster.