CCHC receive generous donation from friends and loved ones of Ken Neuenschwander

We would like to thank the family of Ken Neuenschwander. After the sudden unfortunate death of Ken, our founding President, the family helped raise over $15,000 to the project. Ken had a vision for the center to bring economic growth to Napoleon and a much needed Theater and recreation center to the residents of Henry County and the surrounding area. It is people like the Neuenschwander family that will make this project a reality.

To find out ways you can help the project please visit our website

Picture: Char Neuenswander, wife of Ken and Julie Busch CCHC Co-President.

Napoleon Civic Center Becomes the Cultural Center of Henry County

What seemed a dying dream has turned into the Little Engine that Could. “I think I can, I think I can.” “I know I can, I know I can.”

Assuming a co-presidency for the Napoleon Civic Center last Fall, Steve and Julie Busch (who stopped the wrecking ball that seemed destined for the Napoleon Armory) are driving the Little Engine that Could in an uphill climb. The goal is $1.3 million to repurpose part of Napoleon’s old Central School into a performing arts and athletic center serving Henry County and the outlying areas.

“It took a lot of work for Ken Neuenschwander and his team to get the Napoleon Civic Center organization off and running,” commented Steve recently. “With Ken’s failing health and other unforeseen circumstances, it looked like the project was stuck in its tracks.”

“But we have a new load of fuel for climbing that hill,” smiles Julie. “Part of it is the name change from Napoleon Civic Center to the Cultural Center of Henry County. This opens up the project to the entire county and even beyond.”

Board Treasurer Mark Schwiebert from Hamler, adds: “The ‘#HenryHas’ marketing theme presented to the Commissioners recently is a nice way of promoting all the plusses that Henry County can offer to new businesses. One amenity missing, though, was the project we are working on—a performing arts and athletic center. That will be the frosting on the cake.”

Recently, an anonymous donor came forward to pay the debt owed to the Napoleon Civic Center’s architect, G5. “We are certainly grateful for this person’s generosity, Schwiebert said. “And we have completed the paperwork process to be exempt from real estate taxes.”

“Roger Fisher [executive director] and Peg McDonald [marketing director] of the Defiance Cultural Center have provided a lot of direction that we plan to follow,” committee member Gary Westhoven commented. “Their lineup of performances hits all ages. That’s what we hope to provide for Henry County. The building has two large gymnasiums for athletic and fitness activities.” The auditorium can seat up to 700.

Public tours of the building are being planned for the near future.

To help the Little Engine that Could climb the hill, thank you for considering a gift for the Cultural Center of Henry County, P. O. Box 585, Napoleon, OH 43545.

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

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!


The Board of Directors

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