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.”