Napoleon Lions Club

Dear Mr. Neuenschwander.

On behalf of Napoleon Lions Club, it is my pleasure to Write this letter in support of the proposal to save„ renovate and restore the historic John L. Johnson auditorium and the adjacent west wing of the former elementary school building.

We understand that the renovation of John L. Johnson Auditorium will result in a visual and performing; arts auditorium, and a community Center with a cafeteria, kitchen, conference rooms, and gymnasiums. The possibilities for use by our residents are great. As Lions Club members the motto of “We Serve” has been an important guide post for us, over the years, in helping the residents of our area and the  communities in general.

We fully support the efforts of the Napoleon Civic Center in this endeavor. Any project that can provide a venue to bring the community together is worthwhile and it is our sincere hope that the efforts of the Napoleon Civic Center will provide the necessary funding to bring this project to a successful conclusion.

Sincerely,

Kim Schumm, President

Mayor of the City of Napoleon

Whereas, the Napoleon Area Schools have passed a bond issue to build a new elementary school and middle school building; and

Whereas, the John L. Johnson Auditorium, along with the rest of Central Elementary and the Napoleon Middle school buildings are to be torn down; and

Whereas, Napoleon and Henry County would be left Without a dedicated performing arts center; and

Whereas, the arts have played an integral role in the history and expansion Of our  region.

Therefore, I, Ronald A. Behm, Mayor of the City of Napoleon, do hereby recognize and support the formation efforts of the NAPOLEON CIVIC CENTER STEERING COMMITTEE in their endeavor to set up a non-profit foundation to save the John L. Johnson Auditorium and portions of the present Central Elementary School for use as a Civic center

In Witness Whereas, I here unto Set my hand and the Official seal of the City of Napoleon this 11th day Of December in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Twelve.

Henry County Historical Society

To Whom It May Concern:

The Henry County Historical Society endorses the efforts to save, renovate and restore the historic John L. Johnson auditorium and possibly the adjacent east-west wing of the former elementary school building. The building, built in the early l930’s, represents the last dedicated school auditorium in Henry County. The arts have played an integral role in the history of our region. We would like to see that continue with the establishment of the Napoleon Civic Center. The center would be an epicenter for the arts in this area. The HCHS endorses the renovation and restoration of John L. Johnson auditorium and offers their support in this project.

Sincerely,

Rose Wiemken, President
Henry County Historical Society

Napoleon City Council and Mayor support the efforts of the Napoleon Civic Center Group

Letter PDF


June 19, 2017

Mr. Ken Neuenschwander
14-103 Co. Rd. S
Napoleon, OH 43545

Re: Napoleon Civic Center

Mr. Neuenschwander:

The Napoleon City Council and Mayor support the efforts of the Napoleon Civic Center Group in rehabilitating and establishing a facility for performing arts, office space and other uses in Napoleon. This project has the potential to bring visitors to our great City and establish an amenity that no other communities have around. It also helps in preserving a part of the community’s heritage by putting back the former Central School into productive reuse.

The Civic Center Group has done well to raise funds and establish a robust concept for this site. With more effort and community buy-in, this project can be an asset for Northwest Ohio.

Please contact our City Manager, Joel Mazur, if you have any questions or requests of the City of Napoleon.

Sincerely,

Travis Sheaffer
City Council President
Joseph Bialorucki
City Council Pro-Tem
Jason Maassel
Mayor

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

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.

Napoleon Civic Center provided Napoleon City Council an update on the project.

Napoleon council rejects golf course trail fee

Recent Article from the Northwest Signal

Napoleon City Council Monday rejected a recommendation by the Napoleon Parks and Recreation Board concerning a trail fee for personal golf carts at the golf course.

Council unanimously voted down the ordinance 0-6, with Councilman Ross Durham absent.

The issue was brought up last month to the board for discussion by Napoleon Parks and Recreation Director Tony Cotter at the behest of a member of council.

The board proposed charging half of whatever the fee for a golf cart rental would be normally, depending on the category. For instance, it would be half of what the normal nine-hole rate would be.

Two weeks ago, council seemed to be in favor of the fee, though Councilwoman Lori Siclair did say she talked to a resident who didn’t like the idea of paying money to get their golf cart licensed and approved to be driven on city streets, then having to pay the trail fee.

Council even directed Law Director Billy Harmon to draft the legislation, which it unanimously rejected Monday night.

“I have had some time to think about this,” Siclair said. “I’ve had some conversation with a resident looking forward to getting his cart street legal … and was disappointed he would be charged on top of the green’s fee because as a taxpayer he is already contributing to the golf course.”

She added it seems like the city might be trying to fix a problem that doesn’t need fixed at this point.

“I would rather be in favor, rather than charging this year and re-evaluating next year, not charging this year and then re-evaluating next year and seeing how much traffic we get and if there is more maintenance needed then we can talk about charging at that point,” Siclair said.

Council President Joe Bialorucki agreed, and pointed out Cotter said less than a handful of times has the issue arisen at the course.

“It’s almost like we’re going to deter people (from using them),” Bialorucki said. “We passed that you can drive them on the street if you get them licensed and everything, but now we’re going to charge you if you bring them to the course.”

During the last council meeting, Cotter said he believed when the private carts were brought last year, they were charged the full cart rental rate.

City Manager Joel Mazur said most golf courses do not allow private golf carts to be brought onto their facilities, and those that do charge a trail fee.

Council also received an update from a representative from a group trying to raise money to renovate the John L. Johnson Auditorium.

The group has until June of 2022 to procure an occupancy permit or the building will have to be torn down. The goal is to raise about $1.1 million, but it also inherited about $100,000 in debt.

The representative said about $50,000 has been raised since the new group took over in November, and $47,000 of that went toward debt payment.

In other business, council:

Approved first reading of an ordinance to renew an agricultural district near County Road P.

Passed, under suspension of rules, a resolution to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant.

Approved second reading of an ordinance to annex three acres of land.

Passed, on final reading, an ordinance to change the pay range for the Napoleon Municipal Court bailiff.

Approved spending $35,000 for an electric cost of service study to be conducted.

Requested legislation be brought for a contract between the city and other entities for fire and emergency medical services.

Accepted various donations for the future pool site and approved allowing the police department to apply for various grants.

Recently NCC Treasurer Mark Schwiebert was interviewed by 103.1 WNDH ’s Dave Kleck on some of the updates with the Civic Center Project.

Recently NCC Treasurer Mark Schwiebert was interviewed by

103.1 WNDH ’s Dave Kleck on some of the updates with the Civic Center Project.
Listen to the interview here:
Don’t forget we need your help, donate today by visiting our website at Napoleonciviccenter.org

Update from our Co-Presidents

Best greetings to you during this interesting 2020 holiday season!

We are pleased to report that lots of positive changes are being made regarding the Napoleon Civic Center performing arts project.  A new Board of Directors is now led by Steve and Julie Busch as Co-Presidents.  As you may know, the Busch’s transformed the Napoleon Armory (destined for the wrecking ball) and the former Senior Center (now the Emporium) into income-producing assets.  These facilities continue to bring new money into both city and county coffers.

So can the Napoleon Civic Center project WITH YOUR HELP!  To be more inclusive, the Napoleon Civic Center is changing its name to the Cultural Center of Henry County.   In turn, the Board is expanding to include leadership from outside the Napoleon city limits.

Another change is the volunteer support offered by Patricia Bilow who recently retired from a career in major gift fundraising and charitable gift planning.  Some of you may remember Pat’s help when United Way of Henry County got started in 1981.

We are most appreciative of a $28,000 gift from Carol Beck, wife of the late Kim Beck of Automatic Feed.  This and the Board’s gifts are being used to help clear the leftover debt owed to G5 Architects of Archbold, OH.

Our thanks also to Jeff Lankenau who is working pro bono to represent the organization in any legal matters.

With only 18 months left to complete the Phase 1 renovation portion of Central School (includes the 700 seat theater auditorium, a large gymnasium with lockers and additional rooms for office rentals) into a performing arts and athletics center, we KNOW this can be accomplished THANKS TO YOU!

Please give generously and think “outside the box.”  Cash gifts for Napoleon Civic Center (we need to keep this name until the name change is cleared with the Ohio Secretary of State) is wonderful! Other types of gifts can be even better:

➢ Life insurance no longer needed.  Cash value provides charitable gift for Napoleon Civic Center and charitable deduction for donor.

➢ Appreciated stock provides double tax benefit:  eliminates capital gains tax and provides charitable deduction.

➢ Required minimum distributions from traditional IRAs (although not required in 2020) can be great charitable gifts.  No income tax due.  No charitable deduction.  Cap is $100,000.

(Contact your financial advisors for assistance.)

YOUR GIFT IS SO IMPORTANT!  Please consider a generous contribution for the Performing Arts Center Phase 1 project.  The goal is $1.3 million.

Time is limited.  The building needs to be OCCUPIED by June 15, 2022.

Please send contributions to:

​​​​Napoleon Civic Center
P. O. Box 585
Napoleon, OH  43545

Thank you and blessings on your holidays!

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

P. S.  A new logo, brochure, pledge cards and other print materials are in the works!

New team to bring renewed focus on civic center project

New team to bring renewed focus on civic center project

Recent Article from the Northwest Signal

A new executive leadership team has formed to renew efforts to transform the former Napoleon Middle School and Central Elementary School into a civic center.

The new team includes Steve and Julie Busch as co-presidents, Judy Swerline as secretary and Mark Schwiebert as treasurer.

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. At the time of the purchase, all of the renovations were estimated at approximately $2.5 million with a $500,000 contingency, but the group has struggled to raise the needed funds.

Julie Busch said she attended a recent meeting of the civic center foundation for an update on the project that concluded with her discussing how to assist in the effort along with her husband and Pat Bilow.

“We’re just breathing new life into it,” Busch said. “It’s not a long commitment, it’s just getting it up and running.”

Steve and Julie Busch recently renovated the former armory in Napoleon into The Armory Arts & Events Center, as well as created the Emporium venue across the street in the former senior center.

“Everyone knows that I love old buildings, I love The Armory, I love the old senior center and I really love the (John L. Johnson) Auditorium, and I just believe it’s a beautiful asset, it’s a beautiful building that can be saved,” she said. “If we can save these two buildings, that building can be saved.”

Julie Busch said the team will focus on fundraising — most likely through a capital campaign due to COVID-19 restrictions on large events.

“With new faces, new energy, people may get interested again,” she said. “We want to get people excited.”

Julie Busch noted the project was led by the late Ken Neuenschwander and she said his recent passing led to questions about who would be spearheading the project.

“He was their fearless leader, and he was a very, very ambitious person and a great leader,” she said.

Busch noted time is also a concern as the project has approximately a year and a half remaining before the facility is subject to demolition. 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 leaves less than two years to raise the funds and complete the work so they can receive an occupancy permit.

Bilow said the name of the facility is being changed from the Napoleon Civic Center to Cultural Center of Henry County to focus on the entire county rather than only the city. However, Julie Busch said the plans for the center remain the same as they always have.

“Our main goal is fundraising, it’s not to change things,” she said, adding there has been no disagreements with the project trustees. “The board members did a wonderful job, we just want to add new faces to the project.”

The initial focus of the project has been to renovate the auditorium and lower gym to bringing them up to code so they can be utilized and generate revenue to help with renovations to the remaining parts of the facility.

In addition, Bilow said the effort has received a $28,000 contribution from Carol Beck to help with the restart. Julie Busch said the funds will go toward addressing issues such as insurance and an outstanding bill to an architect.

For more information on the project and information on ways to donate, visit www.napoleonciviccenter.org.