The Galena Foundation is an active not-for-profit organization which consistently launches new projects and initiatives. This news feed from the Foundation's blog features the most recent news and updates.

For a complete list of Foundation blog posts, visit the Galena Foundation blog.


Grant Park work is underway

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–Grant Park is getting a make over, thanks to the Galena Foundation and the city of Galena.

During the Monday, Feb. 27 Galena City Council meeting, the council approved four recommendations from the newly-formed Grant Park committee.

For a total cost of $13,500, paid by the Galena Foundation, the park’s fountain will be completely restored.

The contract with White Construction includes repairing the center figurine, walnut blasting all figurines and repainting, sandblasting all surfaces of the fountain to remove paint, repairing all cracks, painting the fountain, replacing plumbing to the figurines to restore the original fan spray pattern and installing a filter on the pump.

The four benches around the fountain will be sandblasted and repainted for $500. Full funding will be provided by the Galena Foundation.

The third Galena Foundation project, at a cost of $11,500, will be to reconstruct and plant the landscape beds surrounding the fountain, remove all urns from the fountain (they were not original) and use one of the urns in each of the four landscaped beds around the fountain.

The city crew, for an estimated cost of $200, will remove the plantings in landscape beds that form a diamond shape to the west of the fountain, remove narrow concrete edging and return the landscape beds to grass.

Other work

In addition to the fountain restoration and the gardens around the fountain, the committee, meeting Feb. 17, also talked about other projects that are in the works.

Dan Cole and his crew have been working throughout the winter on tree removal and pruning at the park.

Ken Robb, a committee member, reported that Cole has made considerable progress. There were originally 90 trees in the park, with 21 of those trees recommended for removal. Seventeen of the trees have been removed, and there are 35 trees designated for trimming.

As with any project, there are funding needs. The committee briefly touched upon future plans to raise a minimum of $200,000 to help fund the improvements to the park.

There was discussion about a campaign that would allow donors to honor or memorialize loved ones by donating to specific projects. Plaques would be placed at the site and the donors would be publicly recognized as well.

Plans are also underway to assess the current conditions of the stone Civil War monument and the Grant statue.

The White Construction lift will be used to better assess the condition when the fountain restoration work is taking place.

The next Grant Park committee meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 17 at 10:30 a.m. at city hall.


Miller Trust funds go to Turner Hall

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–The work on Turner Hall continues.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Galena Foundation, which is working with the city of Galena to complete projects at the historic structure on Bench Street, received the annual grant payment from the Joseph Miller Charitable Trust.

Attending the check presentation from the Joe Miller Trust to the Galena Foundation for phase two of the Turner Hall project are, from left: Beth Baranski, Charles Fach, Ken Robb, Adam Johnson, Charles Marsden, Libby Miller, Kay Fitzsimons, Mark Moran, Jeremy White, Janelle Keeffer, Craig Albaugh and Gavin Doyle. Hillary Dickerson photo

This year’s grant, for $33,971, will be used to help fund phase two projects, many of which have already been completed.

Phase two projects include lighting control upgrade, interior lighting fixture restoration, rear stage wall reconstruction, exterior balcony painting, exterior cleaning, restroom updates, kitchen rewiring, tuckpointing and sealing, interior painting, new stage floor, complete refinishing and painting of interior and several more.

According to Kay Fitzsimons, wealth advisor for Illinois Bank & Trust, which oversees the Miller Trust, the first grant was issued in 2009, the year after Miller, a lifelong Galena resident, died at age 79.

Since that time, the trust has granted $231,034.81 “for civic improvements, historical preservation, interpretation and enhancements and cultural development in the city of Galena with an emphasis on tangible works and improvement projects.”

Some of the projects for which Miller funds have been used, in addition to the Turner Hall project, include restoration of the Old Train Depot, renovations to the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum, Galena ARC chimney restoration, old high school steps signage, Galena Public Library exterior repair and maintenance, Galena Historic District survey, renovation of the Old Market House State Historic Site and renovation of the Hess farm house on Ferry Landing Road.

City officials point to the work already completed as being a tremendous boon in drawing people and events to the city-owned facility.

Janelle Keeffer, city facilities manager, reported that in 2015, 23 events were held at Turner Hall with the hall booked for 92 days, drawing revenue of $9,265.

In 2016, the numbers climbed to 27 events, 133 days booked and revenue of $24,255.

And in 2017, the numbers go up again with 51 events, 156 days booked and projected revenue of $39,075.

“Turner Hall continues to be a building that represents and celebrates community. Our events are diverse and the rental structure helps provide an affordable option for a variety of different uses–by our school, theater groups, concerts, dances, the Winter Marketplace, health fairs, elections, Boy Scouts and private events such as weddings and receptions,” said Keeffer. “Our building enhancements are focused on improving energy efficiency as well as overall functionality and aesthetics. Our improvements are not only generating more rentals, but also decreasing expenditures on cost of operation.”


Hunter Fuerste concert at Turner Hall for the Galena Foundation in its 10th year

By Hillary Dickerson, Editor
Courtesy of Galena Gazette

GALENA–“There’s something about Galena,” said Dr. Hunter Fuerste, the Dubuque, Iowa-ophthalmologist, who will lead his vintage orchestra in concert Saturday, June 18 at Turner Hall in Galena.

The concert, from 6 to 8 p.m., is hosted by the Galena Foundation and made possible by the generosity of a number of local table sponsors.

Performing in Galena at Turner Hall is one of Fuerste and his band’s favorite events of the year.

“I wouldn’t miss that for anything,” he noted, speaking specifically of the friendly people who attend and really seem to thoroughly enjoy the music as they sit in the historic building on Bench Street.

The band presents an authentic recreation of the big band era, the music of 1935 to 1945. The evening features recreations of the original hits of Glenn Miller, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Count Basie and others. In addition to a 14-piece big band, the program features singers, dancers and a special tight harmony vocal group, The Penthouse Serenaders.

Fuerste is constantly trying new music as he works to recreate the sounds of a bygone era. Pre-show, he worries and frets over what the response will be.

In Galena, his worry is always for not as the audience always responds positively, some even rising from their seats to dance and enjoy an evening out. He appreciates the enthusiasm, as do members of his band.

“Is there any better way to spend a Saturday night,” said Fuerste, noting in the age of electronics, a live concert really can’t be beat for the interaction and warmth a concert elicits. “There’s something fun about it.”

Fuerste and his orchestra members are grateful for the opportunity to perform in Galena and look forward each year to working with Galena Foundation officials and volunteers to pull off a successful concert. Many of those individuals, including Scott Lawlor and Tracy Furlong, have become friends through the years.

“I’m really thankful for that,” Fuerste continued.

Looking back over the past decade of concerts, Lawlor is also pleased with the response from the community to the concerts.

Lawlor remembers that first year, 2007, the 25th anniversary of the foundation, when the board–David Eaton, Lawlor, Libby Miller, Donna Wilmarth, Terry Cole, John Cox, Duane Grenier, Joel Holland and Pat Smith–wanted to host an event to raise community awareness about the work of the foundation.

The first concert, held in June 2007 at Grant Park, near the newly renovated fountain, was just what the foundation wanted it to be, a perfect way to make people in the community aware of the work of the foundation as they enjoyed a world class concert.

“It was a group effort,” said Lawlor, who is no longer on the foundation board but offers his time to help at the concert. He believes the foundation is one of the greatest community groups the city has as it leads and supports restoration and preservation efforts and offers grants to organizations whose efforts align with the foundation’s mission. “We all worked hard to put that first concert on.”

The first year was such a success that the board agreed to make the concert an annual event. Eventually, though, because of weather concerns, the venue became Turner Hall.

And now that the foundation is working in partnership with the city to restore Turner Hall, Lawlor said, it really is a perfect location. The concert draws the community into the building and allows them to see the work that has been done and the plans for the future.

The 250 to 300 people who typically attend the concert can give to the cause and help with the foundation’s mission. Table sponsors pay for the concert and have since the very beginning, Lawlor explained. The event really helps get the entire community behind the work of the foundation.

It’s a concert for all ages, Lawlor noted.

While those in the older generations remember the music of the big band era, the bands they listened to at local dance halls, younger people are just as interested.

Fuerste and his orchestra are fun and engaging and make sure the evening is entertaining.