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Sagging ceiling closes Howells Opera House, group works to raise money for repairs

OAKLEY — A sagging ceiling over the Howells Opera House’s audience section has forced Oakley Valley Arts Council to temporarily close the theater and begin raising funds for its repair.

During the last show, OVAC member Jan Davis said, one of the youth players pointed out the sagging ceiling section.

There was no fall production and there will be no Christmas concert this season, due to the issue.

The board approached Idaho Heritage Trust, which helped out by providing a structural engineer and the board had two contractors look at the ceiling.

The ceiling has detached from the trusses and some of the trusses have split.

“All of them said it doesn’t look good,” Davis said. “So, the board made the decision to shut it down and try to raise funds to save the ceiling.”

But, she said, the roof is not collapsing, which has been a rumor going around.

The 1907 curved design of the tin ceiling is decorative and improves the acoustics of the theater.

The board is seeking donations to pay for the restoration work, Wendell Wells, wrote in an OVAC newsletter.

The building is on the National Historic Places Register, Davis said, which makes the project a little more challenging.

“It may be hard to get a contractor. They are so swamped right now building houses,” Davis said.

The board has applied for a $15,000 grant from Idaho Heritage Trust but needs to raise $50,000 for the project.

“And that may just be a starting point,” Davis said. “If we can’t afford to do the project we will remain closed.”

Every dollar donated will go towards the restoration of the theater.

People can donate to the project, via OVAC, which is a non-profit organization at P.O. Box 176, Oakley, Idaho, 83346 or via a Gofundme account online.

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