The Graham City Council voted last Thursday, Feb. 13, to borrow $375,000 from the Graham Community Foundation to help the Graham Memorial Auditorium pay off its remaining contracting bills.

“There was a donations pledge that’s still going through IRS approval,” said City Manager Larry Fields. “It’s a situation where there’s not any problems with it, but it’s getting to the auditorium slowly. For it to be a tax free donation, it has to go through the IRS, and for whatever reason, it hasn’t come through yet.”

The council voted to borrow the money mainly due to a $244,000 contracting bill that was approaching two months past due. Fields said that once a private family donation of no less than $375,000 passes tax-free approval from the IRS, the loan from the Graham Community Foundation will be paid back.

The GCF loan was received by the GMA on Wednesday, Feb. 19, and Derrell Dodson, current chairman of the auditorium board said that the money was the final amount needed to pay off its $2.3 million, multi year renovation project.

The GMA’s third and final phase of renovations was completed at the beginning of 2014. Dodson said that of the $2.3 million in total cost of repairs, only $500,000 has come from outside foundations, one in Wichita Falls and one in Dallas. The rest, he said, came from local donations and grants.

Phase one of the building’s renovation included a new roof and air conditioning system, and the City of Graham, which had wanted to make those repairs for several years prior to 2009, agreed to pay for that project.

Phase two gave the GMA new carpeting, new seating, new ceiling tiles and new curtains. The main lobby was also rebuilt as part of this phase. Dodson said that even though the auditorium lost over 47 seats due to the increase in seat size, the two-inch addition of width to the new chairs greatly increased the comfort of its patrons. He added that the auditorium now contains a total of 757 seats.

Phase three of the massive renovation project consisted of a sizable addition to the western side of the building.

Read the entire story in this Weekend's Graham Leader.