The Williston High School Auditorium needs help.
The school has plans to renovate as soon as possible, and Gary Brode takes us to the school to find out exactly how much help is needed.
No, this is not an abandoned building, this is the Williston High School Auditorium. A theater which has not seen significant renovations since the 60's. Asbestos, structural water damage, carpet tearing from the floor, ceilings and walls which needed new paint 20 years ago and seats that are on their last leg are all issues plaguing this historical site. While the school recognized the problem, there were more pressing issues in need of funding. This year some employees of the school decided to make renovation of the auditorium a high priority. That idea got a major push in the form of a $60,000 donation by Dale Livdahl in honor of his wife Eileen, a former English teacher at Williston High School.
(Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent) "When we did get the $60,000 donation from Mr. Livdahl, we said 'well how can we get money for the rest of it?' We felt it wasn't very effective to try to fix part of the auditorium or renovate part of the auditorium and not do a complete job of it."
(Gary Brode, KX Reporter) "The seat to my right should be considered the best seat in the house. However, after years of wear and tear, the seats in the auditorium need to be replaced. Unfortunately, each chair will cost nearly $200. Multiply that by nearly 800 seats and the cost adds up quickly."
(Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent) "We came up with almost a $200,000 budget for the entire auditorium."
The auditorium still serves as the primary venue for the Williston community. The site hosts around 100 events per year ranging from community concerts, city council meetings, and the Miss North Dakota beauty pageant.
(Ann Koperski, Auditorium Supervisor) "We not only use this auditorium just for theater, choir and band concerts. It's also used when Williston brings community concert in and we bring in some big names. To ask these people to come and perform and bring them into an auditorium that needs a little love, is pretty challenging."
Plans will replace seats and carpet, add new paint to the walls and resolve any electrical issues. LaFontaine hopes to have the money raised by the end of the school year and construction to be completed when school begins in August.
Gary Brode, KX News.
The school recently found out they will be a recipient of a donation from a group oil companies giving back to Williston called Energy Outreach. It is unclear how much the donation will be.
Those interested in making donations to the auditorium can do so by purchasing a seat.