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New leadership to continue Lamp fundraising in Irwin

| Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Despite a change in leadership, fundraising for the historic Lamp Theatre in downtown Irwin remains in full swing.

Former Relight the Lamp committee leader Kathleen Heuer has resigned from her post on Irwin's Lamp Theater interim board of directors, which is dedicated to seeing the project through construction. Ben Wren was appointed to take her seat.

“Ultimately, we achieved the goal that we set for the organization over two years ago, which was to make sure the Lamp Theatre was revitalized,” according to a blog post from Heuer and the Relight the Lamp committee.

“That process has begun, and we leave it in the very capable hands of the interim board.”

Other original Relight the Lamp committee members that have stepped down are Karen Glass and Kelly Fennessy.

The Relight the Lamp committee is an association of individuals that work to bring attention to the Lamp Theater. The Irwin Project is a nonprofit group working to raise money for renovation at the theater.

The groups are separate and operate independently. Some members of each of the groups, however, also serve on Irwin's Lamp Theater interim board of directors.

Heuer said she resigned because of family obligations. Wren was appointed by Irwin Council in the fall.

“I think there's a lot of excitement in the community,” Wren said. “It's been plywooded up, but with the new façade, people see now this is actually happening. That gets people really excited and convinces them this is actually going to go.”

Irwin Council purchased the blighted theater building from the Westmoreland Cultural Trust for $1 in March. As part of the agreement, council also authorized a line of credit through S&T Bank of up to $125,000, with a 3.25-percent interest rate to fund a portion of the theater's remodeling costs.

The Irwin Project, which is the fundraising arm of the Lamp Theater project, has raised about $70,000 so far. Officials estimated it would cost about $650,000 to refurbish the theater, located on Main Street.

Earlier this year, the borough made a $20,000 donation to the theater.

Council discussed donating an additional $20,000 for next year but shuffled around money to give the fire department a $15,000 donation and the Lamp Theater $5,000.

The change in donation is not worrying, Wren said.

“The borough has a limited budget to work off of, and we respect that,” he said. “The borough has more than met their obligation as far as support. I'm confident that we have the unanimous support of the council.”

Fundraising projects for the Lamp Theatre include the sale of Christmas tree ornaments, theater-seat sponsorships and the sale of stars for the sidewalk in front of the theater that can display a name or company logo. For information, visit relightthelamp.org.

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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