Algona: Now showing

Ed and Betty Wilcox Performing Arts Center is open

-Photo courtesy 
of John Aboud

A $140,000 piano is only one of the major amenities at the new Ed and
Betty Wilcox
Performing Arts
Center in Algona.

-Photo courtesy of John Aboud A $140,000 piano is only one of the major amenities at the new Ed and Betty Wilcox Performing Arts Center in Algona.

ALGONA — Students and community members in Algona have a whole new world available to them inside the Ed and Betty Wilcox Performing Arts Center.

A special ribbon cutting was held in January for the estimated $8 million facility, according to Mayor Lynn Kueck.

The state-of-the-art facility was added on to the Algona High School.

“I mean this is something you would expect to see in New York or Chicago — not Algona,” Kueck said. “It is absolutely incredible.”

The performing arts center has an advanced sound system and 863-seat auditorium.

The center wouldn’t have been possible without a generous donation of $5 million from Ed and Betty Wilcox, according to Kueck.

“We are so proud to have such a state-of-the-art facility and so thankful to Ed and Betty Wilcox for their generous donation.”

Even though the building is part of the Algona High School, Kueck said it will be shared amongst the community.

He said Bishop Garrigan, a private school in Algona, would also be encouraged to use the facility.

“The intent is to have all the school plays, musicals, bands and choirs perform there,” Kueck said. “We want all students to be able to take advantage of such a neat facility.”

Adults in the community will also have an opportunity to perform concerts there, Kueck said.

A $140,000 piano is also included in the new facility.

“This has been the highlight of the whole year for us,” Kueck said.

City Hall

An upgraded City Hall building to be constructed at the same location as the existing one, 112 W. Call St., is another top project in Algona.

The estimated cost of the new building is about $3 million, according to Kueck.

The existing building is to be demolished in the coming weeks.

“We just had the asbestos crew finish up, so now we are waiting on the wrecking ball,” Kueck said.

The Algona City Council contemplated the project for about five years.

The decision to keep the building in the same location was due to feedback received from residents.

“They wanted the location to remain convenient,” Kueck said.

The project is being funded through a local option sales tax.

“There won’t be any change in property tax,” Kueck said.

The city is conducting its operations at the south end of the Camp Algona POW Museum, 114 S. Thorington St., while the project gets underway.

Kueck anticipates the project taking about a year.

Bids for the construction of the building are to be received in the spring.

The new building will be about 4,000 square feet.

“It’s going to add to the beauty of the town because it’s going to be a brand new facility,” Kueck said.

Jobs

An increase in high quality jobs will soon be a reality in Algona, according to Kueck.

Part of that increase is attributed to the expansion of Kossuth Fabricators, or Kofab.

“They are in the process of adding a 35,000-square-foot addition to their current operation,” Kueck said.

The company plans to add 32 new employees in its expansion efforts, Kueck added.

The starting salary for those jobs is $17.50 per hour, he said.

“That’s just starting,” Kueck said. “Those people are going to have a chance to make some really good money.”

Kofab works with stainless steel products that are used in the food industry.

Welders and engineers are some of the jobs likely to be needed, Kueck said.

Snap-On Tools, Hormel Foods and Pharmacists Mutual Companies, some of Algona’s largest employers, will also be hiring in 2017.

“These are going to be good jobs,” Kueck said. “Jobs that you can make a career out of. We are very blessed to have a variety of different industries here in Algona that are hiring.”

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