- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) - A community group said it’s close to reaching one of its major fundraising goals in an effort to reopen a historic theater in central Iowa.

The Help Entertain and Restore Organization, also known as HERO, said it’s just shy of reaching an $80,000 goal to buy digital projection equipment and make repairs to the Webster Theater in Webster City, the Fort Dodge Messenger reported (https://bit.ly/1kvnGFa ).

The theater was built in 1906 and opened as the Orpheum Theater in 1909, according to the group’s fundraising site. It went out of business and closed last year.

The group is collecting money in three phases, said group member Jeff Pingel. The first involved raising more than $24,000 to purchase the theater, according to a crowdsourcing site for the group. The second, $80,000 phase, is near its completion.

Pingel said the community has stepped up to help raise money. One successful effort has been an adopt-a-seat program that lets people buy a seat for $300. The seat will than have a plaque on it.

“The majority of our funds have come from face-to-face contact, and we’ve had a lot of support from local businesses.”

The third phase will involve raising more than $130,000.

“We need to get a little bit of extra cash in the bank so we can pay the bills and get up and running,” Pingel said. “We can’t just open the doors. We need to turn the lights on and the gas on. We don’t want to go in without any startup capital.”

Pingel said the goal is to reopen the theater later this year.

“It all depends on fundraising and how soon we get the repairs done on the building,” he said.

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Information from: The Messenger, https://www.messengernews.net

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