Bear River dream can be a reality
Regarding the article, “Rising costs raise Bear River doubts,” written by David Mirhadi (Oct. 6):
As the only BRHS staff member, district or county administrator who has worked on the Bear River High School theater and pool project since its inception six years ago, I’d like to suggest that your newspaper do further research and interviews to gather accurate information concerning the location of the theater and the pool at BRHS.
I have worked with three principals and two superintendents on this project. If it weren’t for the efforts and expertise of former board member Jon Katis, retired superintendent Joe Boeckx, and retired principal Dick Werntz, this dream would have never become a reality.
I was there when “Trudi’s Dream Team” spent a few meetings scratching our heads saying, “How do we do this?” I was there when we were renamed “South County Action Team” (SCAT), and I was on the final architectural planning committee.
The final committee had to make gut-wrenching decisions, due to rising costs and not enough money. When building a theater, $5.2 million sounds so impressive. The bottom line is, we “dreamed” of a $15 million theater. Though we were thrilled when Measure A passed (and many people were responsible and worked hard for its passage, not just one or two), we then had the daunting task of making our dream theater work.
The SCAT committee originally proposed that Measure A ask for $30 per $100,000 assessed home value. When Dr. McAteer [county school superintendent] came to a meeting and suggested that the community would not approve more than $10, everyone jumped on board, though some of us quite reluctantly. I believe that it may have been possible to get even $12-$15, which would have increased our revenue by $2.5 million. This would have helped tremendously!
What we had envisioned on the adjacent property was a complete performing arts complex and aquatic center, complete with restroom facilities and locker rooms for the pool and classrooms and scenery shops for the performing arts.
No one took community members on a tour of the property in an effort to mislead them. But when the architectural design committee was faced with the hard dollars, building on that property was no longer possible. We were faced with a very difficult and painful decision. Several cuts were made to both the pool and theater. We painstakingly worked item by item and cut costs wherever we could, while still striving to maintain state-of-the-art facilities.
I do believe that more of the original SCAT committee members should have been included in the final architectural committee. They would then have a better understanding of the facts. However, we held a community forum where everyone had the opportunity to speak.
As a long-standing supporter and working member of this project, I gave a presentation titled “Dream vs. Reality.” The reality is, we do not have the funds we had originally envisioned and hoped for. Many of the original committee members were at this meeting. Several spoke to me afterwards, stating that they were now at ease with the decision to move the building site and had a greater understanding of the process.
Remember, as pointed out in the news article, building on the originally proposed property would have added a cost of $2.5 million and we still would not have had a complete performing arts complex or aquatic center. In order to meet the majority of needs for the school and the community, the decision was made to relocate from the original 10 acres to sites within the existing campus.
The most offensive comment to our school in your article was the question, “Who wants to walk through the ‘bowels of the school’ at night to see a concert?” Excuse me? My concerts sell out, and the new theater will be placed right next to our current performing arena, the multipurpose room. BRHS has a beautiful campus, and the new theater site is easily accessed from the parking lot.
Please remember that the district must work within the established budgeting constraints, which requires us to complete a project that is “whole.” This can only be accomplished by the district and the community coming together to make this happen. We must trust that our administration, school board, and the architectural design committee have the knowledge and background to understand what needs to be done and allow it to succeed.
The new theater and pool, I know, will become the pride of southern Nevada County.
Cherry Hayes of Grass Valley is director of choral activities at Bear River High School.
11130 Magnolia Road
Grass Valley, CA 95949
(530) 268-3700, x4833
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