An outstanding debt tied to the Napoleon Civic Center has been satisfied by a donation.

Recent Article from the Northwest Signal

Napoleon Civic Center representative Patricia Bilow said the group recently received $100,000 from an anonymous donor and those funds were used to pay off the debt.

In September 2019, Rick Graber, doing business as G5 Architecture in Archbold, filed a lawsuit in Henry County Common Pleas Court Aug. 30 against the Napoleon Civic Center. The lawsuit was for a breach of contract as Graber alleged the civic center did not pay him $90,393.92 he was owed, plus interest, and the court ruled in his favor.

Late last year, a new executive leadership team has formed to renew efforts to transform the former Napoleon Middle School and Central Elementary School into a performing arts and athletic center. The new team includes Steve and Julie Busch as co-presidents, Judy Swerline as secretary and Mark Schwiebert as treasurer.

“Certainly, this debt hurt our fundraising effort,” Julie Busch said. “But we had enough community support to start digging our way out. And then we got this call. What an unexpected surprise.

“This donor is like an angel from Heaven,” she continued. “We are very grateful. The value of a performing arts center and the added benefit of the gymnasium for fitness and athletic activities will benefit many now and in generations to come.”

Bilow said the organization continues to work toward changing the name of the project, as well as opening the building up for tours and sending out a mass mailing to reach approximately 9,000 households in the area.

The Napoleon Civic Center Foundation formed in 2012 as Napoleon Area City Schools was planning the construction of a new pre-kindergarten through sixth grade building and a junior high addition built onto the renovated high school. Due to the new facilities, the former Central Elementary School and Napoleon Middle School building along West Main Street was no longer needed by the district. The foundation purchased the property for $1 in the summer of 2017 with the intention of renovating it and converting it into a civic center.

A fundraising goal of $1.3 million has been established for the project. Part of the purchase agreement with the district included a clause that, after five years, any portions of the building which do not have a certificate of occupancy would be subject to demolition. An anonymous donor pledged the $547,000 for an escrow account which has been set up to cover demolition expenses if necessary, but those funds cannot be used for other portions of the project. Those five years will be up on June 14, 2022, which a little more than one year to raise the funds and complete the work so they can receive an occupancy permit.