Memorial Hall getting a lift

Building getting its elevator after months of planning

Another chapter in the history of the Memorial Hall is about to begin. On Feb. 5, various contractors gathered at the Hall for a pre-construction meeting.

(Left to Right) Keane Hanson, Ron Zeller, Ruth Fitterer and Connie Schaaf look at blue prints of the new elevator. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)
(Left to Right) Keane Hanson, Ron Zeller, Ruth Fitterer and Connie Schaaf look at blue prints of the new elevator. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor |

Attending the meeting was the general contractor, plumber, concrete worker, electrician and a representative from Sanford who is selling the building the elevator lift. Connie Schaaf of Roosevelt Custer was also present. Schaaf is overseeing the project in part to make sure it meets the standards of the grant the project was awarded. Absent from the meeting was the crew that will be laying the carpet.

Ron Zeller of Zeller Construction in Dickinson will act as foreman for the project.

The elevator project is going to cost $147,769.67, with the elevator itself costing $41,130, according to Hall committee member and City Auditor Jason Jung. The project received a CDBG grant from Roosevelt Custer for $73,225 and an earmarked $50,000 from the city sales tax funds. Proceeds from two dinner theater productions were also given to the project. Jung said they still need to raise some more money and have applied for smaller grants. Jung said donations can still be given to the project.

The process started over a year ago, when a community informational meeting was held in the basement of the building.

The timeline for the project will be short. Hoping to start construction very soon, the plan is to be done sometime in the middle of April.

“It should be done by the middle of April,” said Ruth Fitterer, who has spearheaded this project and been involved with most of the renovation projects in the history of the building.

Architectural design was done by GT Architecture in Dickinson, and they have laid out plans to put the lift on the right side of the building when you walk in. The old ticket booth is a good marker of where the lift will be located.

Bathrooms just below the ticket booth will be relocated just east of where they are now.

The process has been over a year in the making and went a little slow between having to organize the various workers and gather the funds. But Fitterer said she is just happy that it’s coming together finally.

In an interesting twist of fate, the contractor has a little history with the building itself. Zeller used to play in a band, and said he remembers playing gigs at the Hall So during the meeting he went to the back of the stage to examine the wall. He stumbled upon a spot where he and his bandmates hand written their group’s name on the wall, Country Cactus.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Zeller planned to begin work on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

When weather warms up, a final part of the project will be to pour a new, cement ramp outside in the front of the building.

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