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Fremont City Auditorium

Photo of the southeast corner of the Fremont City Auditorium.

You don’t often get goosebumps at a public meeting.

But Kim Koski did when she told the parks board that the city got a $1.125 million grant for improvements to the local auditorium.

Koski is the city’s director of the Fremont Parks and Recreation Department.

During the Fremont Parks and Recreation Board meeting on Tuesday night, Koski talked about the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund.

CCCFF grants are awarded to municipalities and administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) to foster quality of life in communities. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

Plans are in the works for a $3.5 million renovation of the Fremont City Auditorium, which was built in the 1930s, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

In May 2018, Fremonters passed a $2 million bond issue to restore the building at 925 N. Broad St.

The city also has budgeted $750,000 for the project and applied for the $1.125,000 grant.

Koski told the board she learned Saturday that the CCCFF grant was awarded.

“I got goosebumps telling you that,” she said.

Koski said close to $6 million in CCCFF funds were available, but competition for these awards is very competitive. She credited Lottie Mitchell, the city’s executive assistant and grant coordinator, for doing all the work so the city could receive these funds.

“She won’t take the credit, but she’s the one that kept the ball rolling,” Koski said.

Koski talked about the importance of receiving the grant.

She said that while the project had $2 million from the bond issue and the $750,000 in reserves, more funds were needed.

“A month ago, we were at $2.75 million for a $3.5 million project, so we were sweating, and then we got that information that we did get the CCCFF grant — so our new budget is now is $3.875 million — so we have a little cushion,” she said.

The approximately 28,750-square-foot auditorium includes a main floor that’s 19,506 square feet.

Most recently, the main floor has been used as a distribution site, stocked with a host of supplies for people affected by flooding in March.

Throughout any given year, however, the auditorium has housed a variety of events such as wedding receptions, quinceaneras (an event celebrating a girl’s 15th birthday), coin shows, Red Cross blood drives, consignment sales, an annual polka party, library book sales, pancake feeds and other fundraisers.

Due to planned city auditorium construction, this year’s book sale will be April 11-14 at Christensen Field in Fremont.

City auditorium renovation plans include refurbishing floors in the gym and foyers, work on heating and air conditioning systems and plumbing and adding full handicapped accessible bathrooms on the building’s first floor. It also includes installation of a fire sprinkler system, something not previously done, because it was grandfathered in as the building was constructed before these automatic systems were required.

Plans are to update the kitchen to make it more cater-friendly and add information technology along with another meeting room.

Koski said the design and development phase of the renovation is complete. She plans to meet today with engineers of Schemmer and Associates, which compiled a conceptual design and construction cost estimate after public meetings and discussions with city representatives.

In a prepared statement, Mitchell said planning for the auditorium renovation project started five years ago and the city was awarded a CCCFF planning grant for $10,000 in April 2017 that helped fund the conceptual design.

The city auditorium renovation project remains on schedule. The bidding process is expected to begin in early May with construction starting as early as June 2019. The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2020.

Board members were pleased about the news regarding the auditorium.

In other business, the board approved:

  • An agreement for use of the Christensen Field Soccer Complex with the Fremont Soccer Club. This now will go on to the Fremont City Council for final approval. The club pays the City of Fremont a fee to use the facility. The club administers all youth and adult soccer leagues and also has the ability to provide fields for outside users and charge a fee to cover its expenses. The club pays $1,050 per year to the city in user fees.
  • A request by Phi Omega sorority for use of the Johnson Trail and shelter on May 4 for a 5K Run/Walk fundraiser for playground equipment for Johnson Park. The sorority requested use of the park from 7 a.m. to noon.
  • A request for by Fremont Nazarene Church for use of John C. Fremont City Park on April 13 for a Community Easter Egg Hunt. Koski said the church has used various parks in the past and has been very good about managing their events and cleaning up when they are finished.
  • A request by RTG Medical in partnership with community members for a Community Picnic from 3-9 p.m. June 7 at John C. Fremont City Park, Ninth and Broad streets. The company wants to honor those affected by recent flooding and use this as an opportunity to thank those who have volunteered their time and energy, said Veronica Barrientos, RTG marketing and brand ambassador. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served for free. The event will include music, face painting, and also a beer garden for attendees ages 21 and older. The request was approved contingent on RTG securing all necessary event insurance and security and following all regulations stipulated by Fremont Police and the Nebraska Liquor Commission.
  • A request by FurEver Homes for use of Clemmons Park Dog Park and Shelter on June 8 for its “Bark in the Park” event. The event will include dogs available for adoption and “dog-related” vendors and food trucks. Members of the public are invited to attend with their dogs.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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