Connellsville Community Center renovations continue

| Sunday, June 9, 2013, 5:57 p.m.

Renovations and upgrades have been part of the Connellsville Community Center's rebuilding process over the past year, and the Porter Theater has been one of the focal points.

While the theater looks beautiful and has a new sound system, courtesy of John Hamman and his electronic students at the Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center, there are still a few things that need to be done, said Connellsville City Councilman Greg Ritch.

Besides a new fly system for show backdrops and a new lighting system, volunteers and center employee Gary Barker are working to level the stage.

Barker said the old tongue and groove boards that originally made up the stage made so much noise during any theatrical productions or concerts that it just took away from the show.

“It was like you were rolling something across a washboard,” said volunteer Bill Colvin. “There were a lot of boards that were unlevel at the seams.”

The project was started on May 15 with ripping up the old boards. Underneath the board was a thick slab of very uneven concrete.

The volunteers knew they would have to level it someway and began laying down two-by-four joists that were shimmed individually to ensure they were as level as they could possibly be.

Colvin said the leveling process has been the most challenging at this point. Once that part is complete, the next step will be laying down the plywood, which will ultimately be the new stage floor.

Barker said the group plans to lay the plywood this week before the last step of painting it.

Ritch said it is hoped to have a few performances on the stage this year, including a production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” with tentative audition dates slated for the end of this month.

The community center is also preparing for a concert by hometown recording artist Cait Cuneo on June 29 at 8 p.m.

Ritch praised volunteers who have put in hours and hours of work to better the theater.

“We're anticipating a lot more use of this theater in the upcoming months,” he said.

The theater renovations are part of a center-wide revitalization.

Several CACTC classes have been at the center in recent months to do several projects, including the remodeling of two rooms on the first floor, so the HOBO railroad could move down from the third floor and renovations in another room on the first floor that houses the thrift shop that benefits the center.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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