Thursday, April 6, 2017

Celebrating Success

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The Galena Foundation celebrated at its annual meeting on Wednesday, March 29 at the DeSoto House Hotel. Attendees celebrated a year of projects; honored Charlie Marsden, outgoing board president; presented the Frank L. Einsweiler Award for historic preservation to Terry Cole; and elected board officers.

The Einsweiler award is given each year to an individual who has “contributed significantly” to historic preservation efforts in the Galena area, according to Beth Baranski, Foundation vice president, who introduced Cole.

Einsweiler served as Galena mayor for four terms as well as served on the community’s planning commission for 25 years.

Baranski noted, “This year’s recipient has been involved in historic preservation in our area for many years, in many ways and many levels. His personal and professional commitment has played an important role in establishing Galena as a respected model for historic preservation.”

Baranski also cited Cole’s service as mayor and his involvement in the rebuilding of the Meeker Street pedestrian bridge, the creation of the “Galena Historic Preservation Guidebook,” designed to help residents to better understand preservation ordinances, and the installation of the Main Street light posts.

Also cited was Cole’s business, Renaissance Restoration, that was featured in a 2007 edition of Remodeling Magazine as one of the 50 companies that “exemplify best practices in business systems, customer service, workmanship and support of their employees, communities and the profession as a whole.”
Baranski noted, “Terry’s business has developed experience throughout the Midwest in downtown revitalization, orphanage complexes, museums, jails, educational institutions, ag buildings, churches, railroad depots and residential programs.”

Included on that list are a number of Galena properties his firm has restored as well as his relationship with the Campbell Center. He also served on The Galena Foundation board.

For Cole, receiving this award is especially meaningful due to the role Einsweiler played in his life. Cole told the crowd, “Frank was my mentor. I started my business with no experience. When I’d go to city hall, I’d go into his office and we’d talk for an hour.

“What I didn’t know was that he was priming me for his job.”

He noted that one of the interesting things with his company “is that when the phone rings, you never know if it’s about a log cabin or a governor’s mansion.”

The Foundation also honored Marsden, who is leaving after nine years of service on the board, including the last five years as president.

Ken Robb, incoming Foundation president, noted that the Foundation has achieved many things during Marsden’s tenure on the board. Legacy membership increased from 60 to 150 members; annual meeting attendance has increased and the Foundation’s assets have increased from $753,000 to $896,000.

And, during that time, the Foundation has provided funding of $519,000 for more than 30 projects including restorations of the Grant Park gazebo, train station, Turner Hall and Grant Park.

Robb stated, “Charlie, your contributions have been many and your efforts have been much appreciated.” Robb also quoted one of Marsden’s frequent comments, “No one retires from the Galena Foundation Board,” meaning that Marsden still had work as chair of the Turner Hall and Grant Park committees.

For his part, Marsden gave credit to all the people who have served on the Foundation board before and during his involvement and that having the opportunity to contribute something to the community “is a great part of my life. It’s been a really great ride.”

At the meeting’s start, Marsden reviewed some of the Foundation’s successes.

He stressed the importance of the Joe Miller Trust, which is administered through Illinois Bank & Trust Co., and said it was the greatest public/private partnership program in the community’s history.

When established in 2009, the trust had assets of $450,146 and today has assets of $550,000. In that time, Marsden said, the Foundation, through the trust has supported projects totaling $231,000, including $33,000 for Turner Hall restoration this year. Another $30,000 is dedicated from the trust for Turner Hall in 2017, part of a $200,000 multiyear commitment.

The next big Foundation project is the multi-year Grant Park restoration project. The Foundation intends to raise $200,000 to support this effort and has recently expanded the planning committee to partner with the city of Galena.

Other action taken at the annual meeting involved election of officers: Robb, president; Baranski, vice president; Jamie Loso, secretary; and David Wilmarth, treasurer.

Upcoming Foundation activities include:

•Galena Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, Tuesday, April 18 at Turner Hall. Includes a combined presentation of the city of Galena and The Galena Foundation.

•Hunter Fuerste Concert, Saturday, June 17 at Turner Hall.

•Legacy Luncheon, Sept. 15 at the Old City Cemetery.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Grant Park work is underway

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–Grant Park is getting a make over, thanks to the Galena Foundation and the city of Galena.

During the Monday, Feb. 27 Galena City Council meeting, the council approved four recommendations from the newly-formed Grant Park committee.

For a total cost of $13,500, paid by the Galena Foundation, the park’s fountain will be completely restored.

The contract with White Construction includes repairing the center figurine, walnut blasting all figurines and repainting, sandblasting all surfaces of the fountain to remove paint, repairing all cracks, painting the fountain, replacing plumbing to the figurines to restore the original fan spray pattern and installing a filter on the pump.

The four benches around the fountain will be sandblasted and repainted for $500. Full funding will be provided by the Galena Foundation.

The third Galena Foundation project, at a cost of $11,500, will be to reconstruct and plant the landscape beds surrounding the fountain, remove all urns from the fountain (they were not original) and use one of the urns in each of the four landscaped beds around the fountain.

The city crew, for an estimated cost of $200, will remove the plantings in landscape beds that form a diamond shape to the west of the fountain, remove narrow concrete edging and return the landscape beds to grass.

Other work

In addition to the fountain restoration and the gardens around the fountain, the committee, meeting Feb. 17, also talked about other projects that are in the works.

Dan Cole and his crew have been working throughout the winter on tree removal and pruning at the park.

Ken Robb, a committee member, reported that Cole has made considerable progress. There were originally 90 trees in the park, with 21 of those trees recommended for removal. Seventeen of the trees have been removed, and there are 35 trees designated for trimming.

As with any project, there are funding needs. The committee briefly touched upon future plans to raise a minimum of $200,000 to help fund the improvements to the park.

There was discussion about a campaign that would allow donors to honor or memorialize loved ones by donating to specific projects. Plaques would be placed at the site and the donors would be publicly recognized as well.

Plans are also underway to assess the current conditions of the stone Civil War monument and the Grant statue.

The White Construction lift will be used to better assess the condition when the fountain restoration work is taking place.

The next Grant Park committee meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 17 at 10:30 a.m. at city hall.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Miller Trust funds go to Turner Hall

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The work on Turner Hall continues.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Galena Foundation, which is working with the city of Galena to complete projects at the historic structure on Bench Street, received the annual grant payment from the Joseph Miller Charitable Trust.

Attending the check presentation from the Joe Miller Trust to the Galena Foundation for phase two of the Turner Hall project are, from left: Beth Baranski, Charles Fach, Ken Robb, Adam Johnson, Charles Marsden, Libby Miller, Kay Fitzsimons, Mark Moran, Jeremy White, Janelle Keeffer, Craig Albaugh and Gavin Doyle. Hillary Dickerson photo

This year’s grant, for $33,971, will be used to help fund phase two projects, many of which have already been completed.

Phase two projects include lighting control upgrade, interior lighting fixture restoration, rear stage wall reconstruction, exterior balcony painting, exterior cleaning, restroom updates, kitchen rewiring, tuckpointing and sealing, interior painting, new stage floor, complete refinishing and painting of interior and several more.

According to Kay Fitzsimons, wealth advisor for Illinois Bank & Trust, which oversees the Miller Trust, the first grant was issued in 2009, the year after Miller, a lifelong Galena resident, died at age 79.

Since that time, the trust has granted $231,034.81 “for civic improvements, historical preservation, interpretation and enhancements and cultural development in the city of Galena with an emphasis on tangible works and improvement projects.”

Some of the projects for which Miller funds have been used, in addition to the Turner Hall project, include restoration of the Old Train Depot, renovations to the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum, Galena ARC chimney restoration, old high school steps signage, Galena Public Library exterior repair and maintenance, Galena Historic District survey, renovation of the Old Market House State Historic Site and renovation of the Hess farm house on Ferry Landing Road.

City officials point to the work already completed as being a tremendous boon in drawing people and events to the city-owned facility.

Janelle Keeffer, city facilities manager, reported that in 2015, 23 events were held at Turner Hall with the hall booked for 92 days, drawing revenue of $9,265.

In 2016, the numbers climbed to 27 events, 133 days booked and revenue of $24,255.

And in 2017, the numbers go up again with 51 events, 156 days booked and projected revenue of $39,075.

“Turner Hall continues to be a building that represents and celebrates community. Our events are diverse and the rental structure helps provide an affordable option for a variety of different uses–by our school, theater groups, concerts, dances, the Winter Marketplace, health fairs, elections, Boy Scouts and private events such as weddings and receptions,” said Keeffer. “Our building enhancements are focused on improving energy efficiency as well as overall functionality and aesthetics. Our improvements are not only generating more rentals, but also decreasing expenditures on cost of operation.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hunter Fuerste concert at Turner Hall for the Galena Foundation in its 10th year

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–“There’s something about Galena,” said Dr. Hunter Fuerste, the Dubuque, Iowa-ophthalmologist, who will lead his vintage orchestra in concert Saturday, June 18 at Turner Hall in Galena.

The concert, from 6 to 8 p.m., is hosted by the Galena Foundation and made possible by the generosity of a number of local table sponsors.

Performing in Galena at Turner Hall is one of Fuerste and his band’s favorite events of the year.

“I wouldn’t miss that for anything,” he noted, speaking specifically of the friendly people who attend and really seem to thoroughly enjoy the music as they sit in the historic building on Bench Street.

The band presents an authentic recreation of the big band era, the music of 1935 to 1945. The evening features recreations of the original hits of Glenn Miller, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Count Basie and others. In addition to a 14-piece big band, the program features singers, dancers and a special tight harmony vocal group, The Penthouse Serenaders.

Fuerste is constantly trying new music as he works to recreate the sounds of a bygone era. Pre-show, he worries and frets over what the response will be.

In Galena, his worry is always for not as the audience always responds positively, some even rising from their seats to dance and enjoy an evening out. He appreciates the enthusiasm, as do members of his band.

“Is there any better way to spend a Saturday night,” said Fuerste, noting in the age of electronics, a live concert really can’t be beat for the interaction and warmth a concert elicits. “There’s something fun about it.”

Fuerste and his orchestra members are grateful for the opportunity to perform in Galena and look forward each year to working with Galena Foundation officials and volunteers to pull off a successful concert. Many of those individuals, including Scott Lawlor and Tracy Furlong, have become friends through the years.

“I’m really thankful for that,” Fuerste continued.

Looking back over the past decade of concerts, Lawlor is also pleased with the response from the community to the concerts.

Lawlor remembers that first year, 2007, the 25th anniversary of the foundation, when the board–David Eaton, Lawlor, Libby Miller, Donna Wilmarth, Terry Cole, John Cox, Duane Grenier, Joel Holland and Pat Smith–wanted to host an event to raise community awareness about the work of the foundation.

The first concert, held in June 2007 at Grant Park, near the newly renovated fountain, was just what the foundation wanted it to be, a perfect way to make people in the community aware of the work of the foundation as they enjoyed a world class concert.

“It was a group effort,” said Lawlor, who is no longer on the foundation board but offers his time to help at the concert. He believes the foundation is one of the greatest community groups the city has as it leads and supports restoration and preservation efforts and offers grants to organizations whose efforts align with the foundation’s mission. “We all worked hard to put that first concert on.”

The first year was such a success that the board agreed to make the concert an annual event. Eventually, though, because of weather concerns, the venue became Turner Hall.

And now that the foundation is working in partnership with the city to restore Turner Hall, Lawlor said, it really is a perfect location. The concert draws the community into the building and allows them to see the work that has been done and the plans for the future.

The 250 to 300 people who typically attend the concert can give to the cause and help with the foundation’s mission. Table sponsors pay for the concert and have since the very beginning, Lawlor explained. The event really helps get the entire community behind the work of the foundation.

It’s a concert for all ages, Lawlor noted.

While those in the older generations remember the music of the big band era, the bands they listened to at local dance halls, younger people are just as interested.

Fuerste and his orchestra are fun and engaging and make sure the evening is entertaining.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Foundation ends year on positive note with assets of $933,875

Courtesy of Galena Gazette.

The Galena Foundation ended its fiscal year on Dec. 31 on solid financial footings. The organization listed assets of $933,875.

The foundation ended the year with $161,026 in its general fund and $564,167 in its permanent endowment. Other special funds include the train depot fund, $2,223; fountain project, $7,588; Grant Park cannon, $3,100; public stairs fund, $3,122; David J. Dodds Fund, $472,596; Margaret Gardner Award, $28,257; JJ O’Bel Trust, $55,164.

Marsden also noted that the Joe Miller Trust, which is not part of the foundation’s asset base, but which is used to fund projects has been a great success. He noted that the trust’s value in 2008 was $450,146 and today has a value of $550,000. Since 2009, $197,000 has been spent from the trust to support projects.

In 2016, $30,000 from the trust will be used as part of a $200,000 long-term commitment to Turner Hall.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Maintenance and Improvements at Grant Park

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The plan is for Grant Park to get a bit of an update, and members of the Galena City Council appear ready to work with the Galena Foundation to make that happen.

During the Monday, April 11 city council meeting, the council unanimously initiated a project as part of the Grant Park Maintenance and Improvement Plan with the Galena Foundation.

As part of the discussion on the matter, council member Robert Hahn praised the foundation for all the work it does for the city. He felt assured that any project the foundation was involved in would be successful.

Council member Jerry Westemeier, while in agreement with Hahn on the foundation’s track record, was uncertain about funding the work since nothing was included in the 2016-17 budget for a match.

City Administrator Mark Moran explained the plan for this coming year is to get a plan in place and estimates on the work to see how much the city’s match will be.

Mayor Terry Renner pointed out that while funding is a concern, there were no costs associated with initiating the work. Projects would come back before the council as the process moves forward. Renner suggested it might be a good idea to move forward in phases, much like the work at Turner Hall, another city and foundation project, is being handled.

Charles Marsden and Ken Robb, representing the Galena Foundation, were in the audience.

During public comments, Marsden spoke about the recent tree survey the foundation funded which indicated there are 90 trees at the park, 35 of those in need of trim work, 15 removal and 15 more in need of other work.

Later in the meeting Marsden clarified that the foundation paid for the survey done by Mississippi Valley Tree Service on the trees in the fall of 2015.

Renner reminded everyone that when the city is involved and tax dollars used to fund work, the projects will need to be bid out. Marsden assured Renner that was the intention.

Marsden also emphasized the foundation has a number of funds applicable to Grant Park–the foundation and cannon funds, for example–that it plans to use for future maintenance and improvements. He is interested in working with Moran to develop a plan so that can happen.

“I think it’s a good plan working ahead,” said Renner.

Moran has broken the Grant Park projects into short term and long term efforts.

 “Like Turner Hall we have to start out with the rough work and the work needed to stabilize the park before we can get into the really substantial improvements,” the outline in the council packet explained.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Galena Foundation elects officers

The Galena Foundation honored retiring director Joe Nack, elected Dan Kelly to the board and approved these officers: Charlie Marsden, president; Beth Baranski, vice president; Jamie Loso, secretary; and David Wilmarth, treasurer.