It took several years. It took many committed hours of coming up with the right plan. It took generous donations of money from Ed and Betty Wilcox and others. But the hard work and committed effort was worth it.
The Ed and Betty Wilcox Performing Arts Center has opened its doors. And by the numbers of people that toured the facility at the Jan. 13 Algona Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored ribbon cutting and the Jan. 15 open house, the hard work was all worth it.
The first concert is slated for Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m. when the Algona and Bishop Garrigan high school bands and choir will do a joint performance. That evening, Ed and Betty Wilcox will be honored and the Steinway Model D Grand Piano will be dedicated.
There is no question that the performing arts center is part of the Algona landscape because of the generous donations of Ed and Betty Wilcox, Kemna Auto Group, Iowa State Bank, the Algona School Foundation, Pharmacists Mutual and the Haggard-Twogood Charitable Trust.
Maybe the overlooked hero in this whole endeavor is Algona School District Superintendent Marty Fonley. Over the last couple of weeks leading up to this big event, many of the people I talked to for the stories I wrote or just in conversation, said that Fonley doesn’t get enough of the credit for what has happened here. In essence, he has flown under the radar.
When I first started talking to Fonley about the background of the performing arts center, he turned around in his office, reached into one of his drawers and pulled out a folder with several pieces of paper. He had been working on it for several years. In another conversation, I had to meet him in the performing arts center because he was in the middle of painting or helping out in some way or another.
According to several I talked to, all this paperwork and the commitment he had made prior to the construction of the performing arts center, made it that much easier to put the plan in motion. It was also important in designing the performing arts center that Algona will be enjoying for years to come.
There is no question that Fonley would rather be behind the scenes and let others share in the glory. But those who worked with Fonley on this performing arts center project knew it couldn’t be what it is today without the efforts and commitment he has made over the years. He helped start the plan and the plan turned into the Ed and Betty Wilcox Performing Arts Center.