PAC renovations planned

MAJOR PROJECT — These seats inside the Performing Arts Center at Fairmont High School will be replaced this fall. New lighting also is planned inside the facility.

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont School Board recently accepted a $553,000 bid to replace all of the seating in the Performing Arts Center at Fairmont High School. The project will happen this summer.

Tyler Garrison, director of buildings and grounds for the district, said the seats were put in when the building was constructed in 1970. While some cushions have been replaced over the years, the chairs themselves have been used for decades.

“We’ve gotten our money’s worth out of them,” he said.

Superintendent Joe Brown pointed out that while students use the PAC regularly for lyceums, presentations and performances, it is used a lot by the community as well.

“The Borchardt Dance Company uses it,” he said. “The concert series uses it. We use it for different school events. It really is a jewel in the community. There’s no other place in town that can seat 1,000 people.”

There are currently 999 seats on the main floor and balcony, but after the renovations there will be 729 seats on the main floor and 302 in the balcony, bringing the total to 1,031. Garrison said that even though they gained some seats, the new one will actually be larger.

“There’s multiple sizes,” he said. “They range from 19 to 22 inches,” he said.

Currently, the seats range in size from 18 to 20 inches.

Garrison hopes a seating layout chart can be put together so that when people buy tickets for an event they can select what size of seat they want.

Not only will the seats be slightly bigger, but they are also of much better quality. Garrison said they curve both horizontally and vertically, helping with lumbar support.

The new seats will be more red in color than the current red-orange.

As for what will happen with the old seats, Garrison said the committee involved in the project discussed the possibility of auctioning some of them off to the community, if there is any interest.

In addition to the 1,031 new seats, several handicap-accessible seats will be added.

“There’s three now on the second level but with the remodel, there will still be those three up there but we’re adding two more on the main floor by the stage,” Garrison said. “We’ll be putting a small lift on stage right off of the north corridor.”

There are currently railings in the balcony, but they are only surface-mounted. The new ones will be cemented in and more stable. The railings on the outside of the main floor will be repainted.

When all of the seats are removed, a house lighting upgrade will be completed. The house lights will be switched to LED. This is the final leg of the LED lighting project the district underwent last school year in which all lights at both the elementary and high schools were replaced.

“Originally in this project we were just going to replace the seating, but we thought if we were going to take the seats out, they need to set up scaffolding to get at the lights so it’s a good time to replace them too,” Garrison noted.

The project will be undertaken by Brennan Construction, the low bidder. The cost includes all the chair replacements, lift, new railings, paint for the railings and the lighting. The start date of the project is May 28, with the expected finish date being Aug. 23.


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